In this post I just wanted us to discuss the future of work and how technology is affecting work.
I came out of uni nearly twenty years ago and when I compare the technologies then to what we have today it is like day and night. When I started work you could notice that the world was on the verge of some major changes technology-wise.
A lot has changed since then that I sometimes wonder if as an Accountant I will still have a job in 10 years’ time. The same applies to many other professions as automation is happening right now and improvements to automation are accelerating.
We, therefore, need to seriously consider what we can do to take advantage of the changes taking place. The future of work will mean that we find other things that will earn us money.
1. From Paper to a Paperless Office: The Future of Work
In my first years of work, I could see that we were transitioning to a time when there will be a paperless office. However, it was just the beginning of the process.
I can now see that things have advanced very much since then, that if I wanted to I could honestly spend my day without touching any paper. The only reason I have to print my work is that “old habits die hard”.
To be honest, I could for instance do all my reconciliations without touching any paper and still be productive. Unfortunately, you will still find people who will ask you for printouts. And sometimes I personally want to print something so that I could check on paper when I really don’t need to.
All my duties as an Accountant can be done without any need for papers. I wish I could resist any temptation to use paper as that will help in preserving the world we are living in.
As I am talking to you now deforestation is a big problem in the Amazon rainforest and many parts of Africa.
All this will have a huge impact on all of us on earth. I am told that the Amazon rainforest produces six percent of the world’s oxygen supply and absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide.
It is clear from these figures that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest will have a devastating impact on all our lives. What happens in the Amazon does not stay in the Amazon, unfortunately.
We, therefore, all have a responsibility to preserve this earth by reducing our use of paper which comes from trees.
2. Effects of Automation: The Future of Work
I am told that factories are slowly but surely increasing the automation of many processes. Work that only a few years ago required 10 or so people is now done by a machine or robot with little human interference.
With machine learning and stuff this is bound to accelerate.
A few months ago I watched a documentary about how Tesla manufactures its cars and there were all these machines or robots doing all sorts of things on their own.
Even in accounting automation is the watchword now. Now instead of employing hundreds of invoice processors, you can just have maybe a few scanners.
All they have to do is to scan the invoices and the computer will be able to read the information and input it into the accounting system.
What Sort of Jobs Will Disappear Due to Automation and AI
As we consider the future of work, here are a few professions that will soon disappear as their work is done by robots and artificial intelligence.
I am an accountant but I know for certain that the repetitive tasks and analysis of raw data that we do as accountants and bookkeepers are easy prey for AI. Algorithms thrive on analyzing data.
I will therefore not be surprised if in twenty years’ time my work is taken over by AI. Accountants will, therefore, have to find other types of work soon.
I can foresee a future where a businessman can just scan his receipts and invoices and voila the computer analyses them and produces all the reports he needs. The algorithms should also easily prepare any tax returns and process the submission without any human input.
The technology for driverless cars is being perfected as we speak. It is only a matter of a few years before we see driverless cars and buses on our streets.
Therefore another profession that is soon to disappear is driving. Once this technology is perfected there will be no good reason for any company to employ human drivers.
This will save companies a lot of money in salaries and other benefits. And to be perfectly honest driverless cars will be more efficient than human-driven vehicles.
Human drivers need rest and therefore cost companies a lot of money. Driverless cars won’t have this weakness and could be used for longer periods cutting back on the time it takes to transport stuff.
Cashiers are another endangered species of workers as their role is already being taken over by automated machines.
Nowadays people don’t need for example bank tellers to cash and deposit their checks. You just need to go to an Automated Teller Machine to do that.
Even checks nowadays can be deposited through ATMs. A few years ago I had to stand in line for 30 minutes or an hour sometimes just to deposit a check. Nowadays an ATM is able to read what is on my check and deposit it into my account without me meeting a cashier.
2.4 Manufacturing Workers
I have already pointed out earlier how I saw a documentary about Tesla where I saw all sorts of robotic machines doing all sorts of work. This is also happening in so many industries that soon human beings will just be there to observe and take no part in manufacturing.
The result of this is that millions of jobs will be lost. I believe that at this time politicians need to find a way for these people to have some sort of income. Otherwise, I don’t see how these people will be absorbed anywhere as all industries automate.
I can foresee a time when the government will be forced to start paying us while we sit at home. Otherwise, those companies that automate rely on consumers to survive and those consumers will be jobless.
It is a scary future world but maybe it will offer us other opportunities. We just have to wait and see.
2.5 Medical Doctors
Another profession that is in the firing line is the medical profession.
As we speak right now robotic machines are taking over some of the most complex surgical operations. And this is really a positive thing as machines don’t get tired as humans and can, therefore, avoid mistakes resulting from tiredness.
Other tasks that doctors should easily be taken over by artificial intelligence. Already AI has been shown to read scans better than a human doctor. The more they train these machines the better they will become at this.
Even the area of disease diagnosis should easily be taken over by AI. In the future, AI should be able to converse with a patient and be able to prescribe medicine.
On a both a lighter and serious note I would like to invite to visit, Future of Work of Quotes.
3. Decentralised Workforce
With the widespread adoption of broadband internet and other advances in communication, working in one place will soon be a thing of the past. Soon more and more people will be working from home.
The recent COVID epidemic might have hastened this change as millions ended up working from home for months.
This will definitely be a plus for many companies and organizations as it will reduce office rental expenses and other associated costs.
This is also good news for the workers as they don’t have to live in a particular city to work for companies there. You could be living in Washington DC and work for a company based in New York.
It may also be a boon for workers in the third world as they could find themselves available for work for companies all over the world.
This is already happening in the internet marketing sphere as more and more bloggers hire remote writers and technicians from countries such as India or the Philippines.
4. The Gig Economy Will Increase
If you have been attentive, you probably have noticed that jobs, where people are recruited as contractors or freelancers, have been increasing.
Examples of these include companies such as Uber which do employ drivers as contractors and not as employees. These contractors are only paid for the actual work done as opposed to a salary.
Unless there is intervention from the government this trend is likely to continue and the idea of permanent employment will be a thing of the past.
Another impact of the gig economy is the fluidity of jobs. Work will be more of a project type than the fixed organizational structures that we have now. Workers will therefore have to move from one job to the next.
This will necessitate that workers have to learn new roles as opposed to focusing on one role. This is something that the present generation Z enjoys. Unfortunately for most of us, that is a frightening proposition.
We are used to one role where you master your role and are not comfortable learning new things or moving around.
And we have become accustomed to permanent employment such that fluid gigs won’t appeal to us.
5. Lifelong Learning
Because of continuous changes in technology, workers will be forced to learn new things all the time. Gone will the days when soon after leaving college or high school all the learning stopped.
In the future, if you choose not to continue learning you will be left behind and become unmarketable. We will all need to learn new skills all throughout our lives.
Although continuous learning is not an appealing thing for most people it is good for the brain. I am told every time you learn a new thing new cells are created in the brain.
Apparently it also helps with improving memory even as you grow old. This is therefore something that we should look forward to with “excitement”.
What Can We Do To Avoid these Future Job Losses: Future of Work
In the past, we would have relied on our politicians to find solutions for the job losses that are bound to occur soon but I don’t trust our politicians’ judgment on this. Our politicians act as if everything will be the same forever. Our politicians are almost always reactive than proactive.
Here are a few things you can start doing or learning right now.
1 Be an AI specialist
Since the world is moving to AI, I think it would make perfect sense for one to start training as an AI specialist. In that way, you can be part of the revolution that is taking place.
Unfortunately, this is easy for our young people but those of us in advanced age can just watch. In any case by the time things change we will be retired.
2. Be A Blogger
I don’t know what the future holds for bloggers but I am assuming that people will still be interested in hearing what others have to say. I, therefore, think that blogging is with us to stay.
I am however mindful of things that we thought could be with us forever but are no longer around. I remember growing up using cassette tapes to listen to music. I never thought that they would be replaced by CDs etc.
I have written a post about how to start a wordpress blog on Bluehost which I think will help you get started.
Blogging takes time for someone to earn a decent living on but when it does it pays well. I would, therefore, urge readers to consider adding blogging to the things that can replace your job.