Be Nice to Your VPA or Just Give Him/Her/It a Powerful Right Punch

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Digital Workplace - Concept Searching

Be Nice to Your VPA or Just Give Him/Her/It a Powerful Right Punch

The digital workplace. Lots of talk, but I would say we are still at the embryonic stage. When I spot an item of interest on this, I do like to share it. Today it concerns Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs). VPAs will become increasingly commonplace as artificial intelligence (AI) applications become more mainstream.

Worried about losing your job? Depending on what it is, you should be. But let’s look at the silver lining, and assume you will have a job through the digital revolution. What if you don’t like your VPA? What if you are continually getting into disagreements with him/her/it?

According to Gartner, organizations will need to implement a ‘digital harassment policy’ to help regulate the workplace. The research firm predicts that by 2021, 70 percent of organizations will assist their employees’ productivity by integrating AI into the workplace.

Based on feedback from some implementations, poorly designed VPAs can cause a great deal of frustration with the ‘human element.’ Obviously, this results in bad behavior and abusive language toward the VPAs. The theory is that once this happens it will spill over to your live co-workers. Then you have a real HR mess, with VPAs and workers ready to brawl.

The conclusion was to train the VPAs to respond appropriately to aggressive language. What does that mean? The key word here is ‘appropriately.’ Maybe that means ignore the language, sass back, duke it out between person and machine, or teach the VAP to whine – we already know how to do that.

Enough said. You gotta love Gartner. According to Helen Poitevin, Senior Research Director at Gartner, said of organizations in this situation, “They should also clearly state that AI-enabled conversational agents should be treated with respect, and give them a personality to fuel likability and respect. Finally, digital workplace leaders should allow employees to report observed cases of policy violation.”

I’m not sure I can even envision the office of the future. Instead of casting a pall on the workplace environment, I think it could add a sense of hilarity. We do have a sound and practical guide to the digital workplace, which you may like to read, although it seems I will need to amend it to address this form of workplace abuse. Are you training your VPAs to be kind yet spunky assistants?

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