It’s impossible to look at the future of work and employment without viewing it through the context of technology. Evolving technology is fueling speculation on many fronts. Some of these speculations are making people nervous, while others are exciting and highly anticipated. But the question is: How will work look in 5 or 10 years, after new technologies become widely accepted and implemented?
3 Trends to Keep an Eye On
The conversation on future technology is always laced with healthy amounts of anticipation and trepidation. There are those who are excited about new possibilities and can’t wait to evolve. Then there’s always a faction that’s anxious about how new developments will negatively impact current processes.
While it’s hard to force yourself to tame your own emotions, it’s important that you don’t put yourself on one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. There are both positives and negatives associated with technological advancements, but the hope is always that the good outweighs the bad.
In terms of employment, there are at least three major tech trends that have the potential to impact the future of work. Without getting too technical, let’s evaluate how experts in the field see these developments playing out.
- Automation and Job Loss
Automation and the potential for human obsolescence in certain occupations is the elephant in the room. It’s an issue people have talked about for decades and one that has many anxious about the future.
One recent study suggests that 40 percent of retail jobs – or as much as 7.5 million jobs – could be lost by 2021 as a result of rapidly advancing technology. Others say the outlook isn’t much brighter for other industries.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation aren’t inherently bad. These technologies will allow for greater innovation, productivity, and lower costs. But the job loss aspect is something a lot of people can’t see past.
Many experts believe the possibility of massive job loss is way overblown. As Bob Doyle of the Association for Advancing Automation, points out, “It might take employees out of what we call the ‘three Ds,’ a dull, dirty or dangerous job, but [it] puts them hopefully in a different position that creates more value to the company.”
When you look back over history, there aren’t many jobs that have been rendered totally obsolete by technology. In most cases, the roles of particular occupations have shifted. For example, scheduling software and automated answering machines haven’t made the secretary or office assistant useless. However, the role has changed to involve a more technical skill set.
The common example people like to discuss is the role of supermarket cashiers. If self-checkout becomes the standard, what happens to cashiers? Well, no matter how good a self-checkout system is, there’s still a need for people to oversee and help customers who have trouble using them. The role may change from scanning and bagging to teaching customers how to use a system, but the need for human employees is still there.
- Training Employees to Use Technology
The previous example leads us into the second major trend. As new technologies advance, businesses will have to focus more energy on training employees to use the tools they’re investing in.
As information systems expert Robert Gregory explains, “Sluggish take-up of technological ‘solutions’ in the workplace results in wasted money, inefficiency and even sometimes security threats for companies.” In his opinion, one of the single greatest technological challenges organizations will face in the coming years is training staff on how to use these investments properly.
For example, let’s say that your organization is implementing a new CRM solution. While the traditional approach has been to train employees on the basics and then leave the specifics up to system administrators, this approach no longer works. In order to keep things moving smoothly and prevent administrators from being bombarded with questions, each team member needs to be properly trained on the ins and outs of the program. This is the key to successful implementation of new technology.
- The Changing Face of Recruiting
One of the biggest benefits of evolving technology is that the recruiting and job search processes – for employers and employees, respectively – are becoming much more convenient.
With AI, machine learning platforms, and intelligent bots, the early stages of talent acquisition are becoming much less time intensive. Then, later on down the road, interviews can be handled remotely via advanced video streaming and file sharing solutions. The result is less wasted time and larger talent pools.
Virtual recruiting and interviewing is especially important in businesses where the candidate will be filling a remote position. Take Summit CPA Group as an example. They hire a lot of remote employees and have found it helpful to conduct the entire interview process through video conferencing. By doing so, they’re able to test the candidate’s video conferencing skills, evaluate the internet connection, and get a glimpse of the candidate’s home office. This is just one illustration of how technology is changing recruiting for the better. Many more are being discovered as more businesses explore the possibilities.
What Does the Future of Work Hold?
Nobody knows what the future holds for work and employment. A lot will depend on the industry you’re in and the willingness of people to innovate. One thing is clear, however. In 5 or 10 years, things will be much different. New technologies and changing attitudes will lead to progression – some of which will and won’t be comfortable. It’s up to businesses and individuals to keep up. The worst possible thing you can do is become obsolete due to a failure to evolve.