Time Flexibility: Due to the pandemic, many of us have already adopted flexibility about ‘where’ employees will work. Next in line is the time flexibility and organizations will focus more on ‘when’ employees can conveniently work.
There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.
To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.
As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Shahid Hanif.
Shahid Hanif is the Co-founder and CTO of Shufti Pro — an AI-powered identity verification service provider. Before Shufti Pro, he also co-founded Zensed which is a Machine-Learning-based chargeback and fraud prediction system.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
Born and raised in Pakistan, I completed my masters in Artificial Intelligence from The University of Edinburgh. Back in 2015, I had a terrible experience with a bank’s onboarding process. The identity verification process was cumbersome and time-consuming. Not just one, but I had a couple of terrible experiences with the IDV process. I instantly decided to introduce a solution that is fully automated, has a smooth process and takes the least possible time to complete. I started working on the product, failed as well but never gave up. Finally, Shufti Pro began operations in 2017.
What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?
The major disruption would be hyper automation. With everything digitising at a falser than ever pace, employers will have to focus more on adopting the AI-driven trends and solutions in the sector.
The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?
Education is important but my advice to the young ones is to learn some skills. Going to college and attending a few lectures doesn’t mean you have all the knowledge and expertise you need for practical life. In the corporate world, nobody is going to ask you about the book you referred to in class. Instead, your skills will help you achieve what others may not be able to.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?
First of all, there must be a better career counselling system for the young minds and they must be encouraged to polish their skills. Rather than emphasising on the degree only, individuals must be more focused on what they are actually good at, then choose a career path. It will help them in getting a job of their dreams that fits their talents and interests.
The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?
These bots and automated solutions also need a human expert to monitor their activities. So, people should consider technological penetration as an opportunity. It is and will definitely diversify working areas for everyone.
Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?
Yes, I am because many surveys have revealed that employees are comfortable working from home. Surprisingly, their productivity has significantly increased. Apart from these surveys, I also discussed this with my team and approximately half of the team members are in favour of work from home policy. I think this trend is here to stay.
What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?
Offices are reopening and it’s time that employers realise that working from home is not going to affect any operations. If your teammate is comfortable working remotely, then so be it. As long as the employee is productive, WFH is perfect for them.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion how should this be addressed?
Yes, this is a major concern that must be addressed at the earliest and the best way to do so is letting people work remotely. Onboarding people from different corners will not only increase the talent pool for the organization, but also reduce the gap in pay levels.
Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between the job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?
The hybrid working model can reduce the length of this gap. From the COVID-19 crisis, it is evident that people from any corner of the world can work for your organisation. It is the talent and skills that matter, not the physical presence of the person in the office.
Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Hybrid Workplaces: Post-pandemic era is all about hybrid workplaces. Fully remote operations may not be possible but a mix of remote and in-office is what we can expect in the future.
2. Hyper Automation: Since everything has shifted to digital means and hybrid workplace model is being adopted, hyper automation is what employers will seek for all the Human Resource operations. Analysing the gaps in current processes will get a lot easier then.
3. Cybersecurity: I couldn’t emphasise more on this one. Everything is dependent on technology now and in the next 10 to 15 years, we can expect more AI-backed solutions. Given the technological disruption, bad actors are also employing AI and ML for their ill gains. What the employers have to worry about is the use of forged or manipulated identity documents that an imposter shows during the hiring process. You never know when a perpetrator enters the business ecosystem to mess with the accounts or use the company for hiding black money. Maybe this “employee” is just here to hack the system and steal sensitive information from the company’s database.
4. Skillset above degree: For long everyone has considered degrees as a parameter for evaluating expertise. This is already changing and in the coming decade, employers will focus more on the candidate’s skills than their degree.
5. Time Flexibility: Due to the pandemic, many of us have already adopted flexibility about ‘where’ employees will work. Next in line is the time flexibility and organisations will focus more on ‘when’ employees can conveniently work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
– Oprah Winfrey
I have shared this in one of my other interviews as well and I believe passion is the key to success. The more passionate you are, the higher the chances of success.
Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?
They can get in touch with me on social media accounts:
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.