What will humans do when machines do it all?

In this article Morris Miselowski, world renowned Business Futurist, provides insights into the new workforce paradigm.

People vs technology is the supposed battle of tomorrow’s employment landscape with predictions of 500,000 jobs being transferred from humans to machines within the next decade in Australia.

We have already seen routine jobs like bank tellers, cashiers, assembly workers and others lose their jobs to machines. Next to go are the routine white-collar jobs including those from within the real estate, legal and financial industries, amongst many others.

Machine employees is not the only major change ahead, as we evolve further everything we know about working, living and being human will change.

The new workforce paradigm

Our industrial revolution model of work served us well through the last 150 years and was best epitomised by the Henry Ford production line.

It saw us centralise and specialise work turning an agricultural based society, which required a person to know a little bit about a lot of things, into a society that instead valued specialist skills. This saw people taking responsibility for a specific task or series of related tasks, turning that speciality into a lifelong career.

In this world of many hands make light work. Turn up at 9 a.m. leave at 5 p.m. come back tomorrow and repeat again for the next four days. Hand in a litre of sweat at the end of the week to prove you’ve worked. Take the weekend off for religious and family reasons. Repeat this for 48 weeks, take 4 weeks off for annual leave and then repeat again x 35 years until retirement.

Some industries and businesses will still work best on a 9-5 framework and employ people and resources accordingly, but rather than this being the default business and employment paradigm, it will instead become one of a spectrum of future workplace options.

This spectrum will include a physical world with all its old legacy ways of working, doing and having things; a brand new digital world barely out of its infancy and still to show its true adult potential; robots, drones and androids marching confidently over the hill; rapidly changing cultures and habits; burgeoning, connected and intelligent technologies; increasing populations; decreasing jobs and ever-growing human desires all mixed together and simmering in a large pot called the future.

If you think about the human resources of banking you might assume that the majority of its workforce works 9 – 5 and in a fixed place of work, but in a recent Workforce 2025 project it was found that 60% of banking employees already work where and when is appropriate, rather than 9-5 and in an allocated office.

This makes sense when you chart the evolution of banking from a fixed hour retail model as its primary customer engagement mode to today’s 24/7 physical and digital omnipresent banking system. A system requires workforce, technology and physical resources to be readily available anywhere, anytime as customers now choose between a myriad of banking options both physical and digital depending on what their immediate need is.

In this new workplace of tomorrow the mandated weekend and four weeks holidays will be antiquated notions.

The old paradigm will be replaced with fluid work and life activities each overlapping the other and being completed when and where the task requires it and time off being taken on a day or days that suit all parties.

The new faces of our workforce

People beginning their work life today are likely to live to 120, work into their 90’s and work through six distinct careers and 14 jobs doing tasks and working in industry’s that today we know nothing about.

The ‘preneuer’ will be common in this new work landscape and will come in many different flavours.

The ‘intrapreneur’ will be employed within a company and be asked to constantly flex to the task at hand innovating and changing as required for each interaction.

The solopreneur will be the equivalent of today’s freelancer working independently, perhaps with one or two simultaneous income streams, and supplementing this income as and when required with core and peripheral skills through sites like Freelancer, Fiverr, Airtasker, Uber, Airbnb and others.

Regardless of employment method, workstyle, hour’s worked, digital or physical engagement, the 4 C’s – Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity and Communication are tomorrow’s career defining human traits.

Past experiences and qualifications will still be vital in this new frontier, but others with similar background and training are easily found.

Ernst and Young UK have recently taken a similar stance by announcing that a great academic score is no longer enough to secure you employment with them, instead it is only one of a multitude of insights that will be used to make a hiring decision.

What will be left for humans?

In this world of next, ambient technology will be taken for granted, technology will not only store infinite data, but filter and curate it specific to your needs. In this world the mundane repetitive tasks and jobs are done by machines. What, in this world, is left for humans to do?

We devolve to a time where the work and the task dictated the where, how, when, who, and why it was done. Where tribes and community worked together for the common good and competed within for individual accomplishment.

We find the human point of difference from the machine is artisanal wisdom.

The innate human ability to constantly question the world, to tilt at the status quo, apply intuition, look for innovation and possibility, to offer a bespoke understanding, product, service or resolution to every unique customer interaction.

We revert to being human.

Morris Miselowski - Business Futurist

Morris Miselowski is a world renowned Business Futurist, Presenter, Corporate Adviser and Media Broadcaster and since 1981 founder and Lead Futurist with Eye on the Future.

Please contact Morris for more information Morris@BusinessFuturist.com