With the accelerating pace of automation, AI, robotics and more, there are people all over the world who are worried about their jobs in the future. There are those who think that robots will take away a lot of jobs, and then there is research that states there will be lots of new jobs in the future and better jobs for humans.
A recent McKinsey & Company study found that about 30 percent of tasks in 60 percent of occupations could be computerized, while last year, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist stated that 80 million US and 15 million UK jobs might be taken over by robots. In 2013, a highly cited study by Oxford University academics called The Future of Employment examined 702 common occupations and found that jobs such as telemarketers, tax preparers, and sports referees are at more risk than others including recreational psychologists, dentists, and physicians. Some additional jobs that will be replaced by robots in the next few years might include those of telephone operators, printing, travel agents, customs brokers, lab techs, farm laborers, manufacturing parts, mining, parking enforcement, textiles and pattern makers, or jobs that require repetitive action over time.
There are many future researchers who are creating fear about jobs being lost when, in fact, the information and technological age is and will be creating new jobs that have not been created yet.
Which jobs will be safe?
Jobs that involve “genuine creativity, such as being an artist, being a scientist, developing a new business strategy are safe in the short-term, however, there is no guarantee that these could be replaced by robots in the next twenty years. The other safe occupations will be those that involve building complex relationships with people: nurses, for example, although nurses will be assisted by care-bots to do the heavy lifting so that the nurses can focus on patient care. Business ‘contextualizers’ will be needed to help businesses navigate the fast-pace of change by utilizing data along with human insights into relationships, and all jobs to do with human needs such as plumbers, painters, entertainers, game creators, food, well-being and more will remain.
With the increasing speed of digitization, the workplace is evolving quickly. Worker mindsets are shifting as automation begins to take over the repetitive tasks that were once done by humans. Millennials are leading the mindset shift towards having a life first and work fitting into life.
The biggest opportunity for businesses is in being aware of the future and focusing on being future-ready.
The need of the hour
Create futurists within the company: This is a group of people focused on looking at future impacts, networking with diverse industries and researching future impact on business.
Develop leadership skills for the future: Focus on developing the skills of the leaders so that they are able to be creative decision-makers, and agile in their ability to change quickly.
Provide skilling opportunities: Train everyone in the organization to be ‘change leaders’, who are highly skilled at technology as well as human skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and collaboration.
Increase remote working: Increase opportunity for remote workers and increase communication with current remote teams to ensure engagement with all employees.
Leaders need to think about whether the structures that are in place now and have been in place over the years are still valid. A great question to ask is:
Do our current rules and structures support our client success or our employee happiness?
For example, a financial client recognized that they had a rule that did not let financial service professionals to reverse fees for unhappy clients. When they looked at this rule, they found that it was costing major time and money for the financial professional to have to get approval to reverse fees. The leadership team recognized that to empower their teams with the ability to reverse fees, they would increase customer happiness and would also save money. Although, this is an example of a rule that had been in place for a very long time, it no longer made sense for today’s reality of client service delivery.
There will be more disruptions to businesses, we are going to see more Airbnb type companies, more mergers, more acquisitions — these disruptions are going to impact both businesses and employees even more in the next few years.
By the time we reach 2020, automation and robotics will have completely changed the landscape of jobs and how jobs are done. Right now, what employees can do is focus on the future opportunities and to build abilities that enable adaptability to rapid change.
Employees need to be looking at ways to improve ‘human skills’ such as conflict-resolution, team communication and the ability to be a ‘change leader’.
Another trend at the workplace is the increase of freelance and entrepreneur opportunities, and companies need to now look at the ways to work with a workforce that will be increasingly changing due to project type work and contract work.
In the future, the workplace will be a hybrid of full-time workers working alongside project or contract workers. Right now, leaders need to be building strategies that focus on what’s next as far as driving the business forward while also keeping an eye on the far-out future and the potential impact on the business today. Rather than be afraid of jobs being taken over by robots, I think businesses need to be afraid of not being future-ready now for all of the upcoming disruptions that are right around the corner.