During the last few years, there has already been a solid discussion and political will, transversal to most European countries, on the need to invest in prevention, promoting healthier living environments and person-centred digital solutions. In short, it seems that consensus on the need to move forward and invest in wellbeing and quality of life was achieved.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and the confinement measures it implied, many services had to be closed; teleworking suddenly became the rule and many families stayed at their homes, with the children in remote classes, some without sufficient equipment or the most adequate digital tools available. Digital services, if implemented correctly, can be the right tools to address many of these challenges. The importance of implementing them correctly increases in the current context of accelerated Digital Transformation, where many are looking towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a means to help people to cope with the increasing number of digitized work. We are assisting to a gear-shift in the current digital revolution, as now we better understand how it could have been helpful, if already embedded in daily life.
COVID-19 generated severe consequences for the working context, with effects on physical and mental health and wellbeing, and with trends such as teleworking coming to stay. Organizations and individuals working on AI can play a great role in providing solutions, not only during this emergency period, but also in the long-term perspective, and not only for office workers but in more traditional industries as well. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic is a driver for the digital revolution in the workplace across many levels. However, inequalities persist and their impact on universal access to the digital world is enormous. Moreover, several other challenges come from the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace.
This paper addresses how technology applied to the work environment can be leveraged to respond to the emerging challenges raised by COVID-19. It also provides reflections on the main opportunities and challenges that the use of AI solutions in the workplace imply, suggesting measures or recommendations to tackle them, towards a concerted approach to AI, integrating the policy agenda with the implementation strategy.