The conversations we have with machines will shape the business cultures of the future.
Organisational culture can be broadly described as how it feels to work for a particular company. So how is this culture shaped when parts of your workforce are artificially intelligent programs, supporting your work using natural, relatable language?
We spotted this Tweet recently – one man and his friendly coffee machine – and it got us into a bit of a debate here at SA:
In a future A.I.-powered workplace that’s more when than if, we’ll have automated PAs and virtual team-mates that can tap into the systems that help run our business. We’ll be talking to insightful devices around our office to book rooms, arrange meetings, make HR enquiries, or forward the most recent version of that important presentation to our stakeholders.
And one of those devices may well be Bob’s coffee machine.
Only this week Google shared an incredible demonstration of their new A.I. powered assistant making phonecalls to book hair appointments with real people. Politeness, umms and ahhs, and slang have been programmed into the assistant.
Talking to these devices, and their reactions to us, can change our experience at work, and could impact our business culture and employee experience.
If we drop our manners when speaking to an automated assistant, won’t that spill over into how we interact with our more organic-based colleagues? And wouldn’t it be weird if, during a team meeting, an AI assistant kindly announced a room booking, and the requestor didn’t say ‘thanks’ afterwards. The rhythm of etiquette would be off, and the room would be left to feel kinda… stiff?
And who’d want to work for a company where the A.I. that supports your everyday tasks did so in a cold, emotionless manner?
The exchange is two way; it’s about how we interact with these platforms, and how they interact with us. And these exchanges will have an intrinsic effect on workplace culture and how enjoyable it is to work somewhere… so what can we do to ensure this impact is a positive one?
It seems we’re not really ready yet to get all chummy with the machines that serve us. In fact, we often don’t watch our Ps and Qs when it comes to interacting with automated assistants now…
“Computers don’t have feelings, right? They’re just wires and fancy algorithms!?”
But even in light of this fact, isn’t it about time we re-looked at this dynamic, for the sake of etiquette and creating a culture of respect in our future workplaces?
It might feel like pantomime at first, but without it, we might find ourselves on a slippery slope. After all, this direction leads us to question why we use please and thank-yous in the first place. They’re not essential parts of doing a good job, and the world wouldn’t stop spinning… but they do make a business a lot nicer to work at, and our everyday interactions with each other much sweeter.
Future culture and our role in Internal Communications
While it seems that *most* people don’t use polite terms with their automated assistants right now, maybe this is something we should encourage, champion and even reward to ensure our business cultures and our etiquette doesn’t erode in the long-term?
We’re not suggesting saying thank you to the coffee machine Bob mentions in his Tweet, but sharing thank yous with a device that can recognise the expression, and even respond appropriately; ‘you’re welcome, Bob.’
And as the teams who will help introduce these assistants and other such platforms, like Chatbots, to the workplace, we do have a role and influence on how these platforms respond to our workforces too. These platforms are ours to build, and as such, we have power, and need to consider their language, tone, and perceived personalities.
We touched on this a while back when we were building our first Chatbot; as IC professionals, we’re given the power to create virtual colleagues that should not only be useful but interact with our employees in a way that’s culturally right for the business that employs them.
As we head towards a world where employees work ever closer with digital assistants – this presents an exciting challenge for Internal Communications teams. Assistants that use the right language and tone will make our employees feel welcome and promote positive, polite, business cultures.
And maybe these employees will share some of this positivity and politeness back to these platforms, even if it’s not received in quite the same way.
Kindness is infinite; let’s share it with everyone.
Our role in IC
What can we do as Internal Communications professionals, to ensure the platforms and tools introduced to our business encourage and support the business cultures we spend so much time cultivating? And is your business prepared to make the most of these powerful, resource saving tools for both communication and collaboration?
Get in touch if you would like to explore how digital assistants, chatbots and other digital platforms can support your IC goals, while also ensuring the cultures within your business are supported too.