Future of work with technology and AI – what does it mean for the board?


The future of work with technology and AI – what does it mean for the board?

The role of board in driving transformation and empowering executives

How does the future of work look? Perhaps not many can respond with confidence, but we all know that corporate leaders need to adapt and seize opportunities to stay ahead. To successfully navigate this transformative journey, boards must support executives in equipping themselves with the knowledge and understanding to comprehend the implications of data, digital and AI technologies so that they can effectively drive business transformation. Equally, board directors also need to enhance their knowledge and skillsets to exercise effective oversight.

We sat down with Deloitte’s operations transformation and human capital  experts, Kirsi Kemi and Janne Jalava, to discuss the role of boards in all of this.

Key takeaways:

  • Boards should address the gap between workers’ desire for support in envisioning the future of work and the current limited organisational support.
  • Board members can bring fresh perspectives by actively exploring and adopting new technologies.
  • The board’s role is to oversee the allocation of resources and support the organisation in staying innovative, resilient and successful in the long run by fostering a culture of experimentation and innovation.
  • Boards should focus on the social aspect of ESG issues  in order to enhance human performance and bolster business.

Board members as pioneers of AI and the future of work

According to the findings of Deloitte's Human Capital Trends 2024 study, the current market indicates that 76% of workers consider it important for organisations to assist them in envisioning what the future of work could be. However, only 43% of organisations are actively providing the necessary support to fulfil this need. “This disparity highlights a gap that the boards need to address. It is especially important given the rapid advancement of transformative technologies like AI and augmented reality, which are reshaping the future of work”, says Janne Jalava, Human Capital Country Lead at Deloitte.

Board members, usually coming from diverse industries and environments, possess a unique opportunity to understand the potential of different technologies and explore use cases for implementation across different sectors. “Board members can serve as innovators and bring fresh perspectives to their respective organisations. By applying the same expectations they have for talent, board members should also actively engage in exploring and adopting new technologies”, says Kirsi Kemi, Partner and Operations Transformation Lead at Deloitte. According to Kemi, this proactive approach enables the board members to challenge their executives and ensure that relevant and sufficient effort goes into driving progress.


Board members, usually coming from diverse industries and environments, possess a unique opportunity to understand the potential of different technologies.


Embracing technology by enforcing experimentation and learning

In the past, technology primarily evolved around automation. However, generative AI (aka Gen AI) has broadened its accessibility: “Gen AI is more approachable as individuals can envision its potential benefits within their own work or field. It is no longer limited to the understanding of technical professionals alone, but it is rather something that can be grasped and appreciated by anyone”, Kemi explains.

Contemplating what impact Gen AI and other technology may have can be challenging. For example, when considering the potential of Gen AI, it is relatively straightforward to envision its application in simple tasks like document creation. However, true innovation encompasses more than just these types of basic task. “To overcome this challenge, some organisations enable the so-called digital playground where experimentation and exploration can take place”, Jalava states. According to him, this hands-on approach serves as a pathway towards understanding the full potential of Gen AI within an individual business context and understanding how it benefits one’s work and customers. 

The board’s role is to oversee the allocation of the necessary resources and to support the organisation in staying resilient, innovative and ultimately successful in the long run. They should facilitate the organisation remaining agile and adaptable to changing market conditions and ensure that employees are suitably upskilled, having access to the necessary tools and resources. “By fostering an organisation with a culture of experimentation and innovation, the board can help to attract and retain top talent and identify new business opportunities”, Jalava continues.


Focus on the S in ESG: Enhancing human performance to bolster business

In Deloitte’s Human Capital Trend 2024 survey, a significant majority of the respondents (74%) emphasised the importance of seeking better ways to measure worker performance and value. Organisations now have the opportunity to leverage new data sources when transitioning from traditional productivity measurements to assessing human performance.

“ESG issues form a current and relevant topic that boards are already actively addressing. I challenge the boards to focus more on the social aspect of ESG issues (the S of ESG), which encompasses the human element”,  Kemi states, going on to say, “The business performs better if people feel happy at work.”

According to Kemi, directly measuring the social impact is challenging. However, it is possible to assess the value of organisational skills in relation to business outcomes, the level of investment in talent performance and development, and the resulting benefits, such as improved business performance and increased customer satisfaction.


The business performs better if people feel happy at work.

Part of delivering value to customers involves talent reskilling, upskilling and cross-skilling. However, the talent market alone may not provide all the answers to these evolving needs. “To effectively acquire the necessary talent and knowledge, organisations should adopt multiple strategies and remain agile as requirements can change rapidly”, Kemi says. “Traditionally, leaders have focused on driving business outcomes. Now they must also lead performance and embody the qualities of ‘human leaders’ rather than solely embodying those of business leaders”, she adds.

“While it may not be a straightforward task, boards and companies should prioritise thoughtful consideration of these factors”, Kemi continues. She goes on to say, “How are the competencies built? How does the talent market perceive your organisation? Some organisations are currently implementing various leadership programmes, and coaching and mentorship initiatives in order to widen their perspectives and equip their leaders for this new workforce reality.”

Kirsi Kemi and Janne Jalava, Deloitte

Janne Jalava
Human Capital Country Lead

Kirsi Kemi
Operations Transformation Lead

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