When we think of technology, the first things you might consider are devices that use electricity and have the word “smart” before their name. Smartphones or smartwatches. Contrary to what some might believe, technology was not invented by Steve Jobs in 2007 when he revealed the new iPhone. It also did not begin with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Technology can be dated all the way back to the transition from sundials into clocks or the invention of the horse plow that signaled the agricultural revolution. If we time-traveled back to the dark ages, what we begin seeing is that technology had, and continues to have, a monumental impact on the way we live, experience the world, and interact with one another, but how exactly does technology impact us now? And more specifically, how does technology affect the working world?
How Automation is Affecting Employment
The rapid development of technology has placed the world in a state of influx and uncertainty. The most significant impact created by technology in the working world is arguably the creation of job automation. From corporate jobs, factories to the cashier role at your local Wal-Mart, job security is being threatened by the process of automation. While it has been argued that automation was created to make our lives easier, the automation process also eliminates the need for unskilled workers. Employers are beginning to value candidates who have hard skills such as critical thinking and technical skills over dedicated and hardworking candidates.
The Role of AI
In the same vein as automation, artificial intelligence was created to help companies increase productivity and maximize efficiency, but it also threatens job prospects. Although we have not seen physical robots walking around the streets and improving our lives (yet), AI has been working in more subliminal ways. AI has been changing how programs are created, understood, and transformed. Instead of companies paying humans to develop programs, they are now paying robots. This is the same with developing networks, software, and apps. But forget about the technology industry for a second. Of course, technology affects technology. What about other sectors in the workplace? AI has a hand in almost anything that requires technology, from streamlining administration, customer services, sales, production work, and even the foodservice.
Technology Encourages Creativity
The takeover of technology and robots is a daunting topic, but technology also has many benefits. Suppose you have access to a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet. In that case, there’s a good chance that you also have access to the plethora of apps that were created and designed to encourage creativity, foster personal expression, and exchange ideas. Apps such as Canva, Zoom, and Slack have made monumental strides in the working world that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without them! These apps have become a valuable resource for both employers and employees in efficient and productive work.
The Future of Work is Working from Home
Working from home has been a heavily debated topic even before the pandemic struck. Arguments against working from home included the lack of productivity at home, the blurring of lines between work and home, and working from home, which put older employees at a disadvantage. While there are some truths to these arguments, thanks to the pandemic and the normalization of working from home since 2020, it has been proven that productivity can increase when people are not spending 1-2 hours of their energy on long commutes in and out of the city or 2-3 minutes on brutal small talk. Working from home is not only possible, but it is thriving now because of all the technological developments that were created to make this possible. Furthermore, working from home benefits employees and benefits employers as well.
Remote work has allowed the companies to cut back on office costs which can range anywhere between $29.80/sq.ft USD to $92.70/sq.ft. USD. This cut back on costs, on top of smaller costs like stocking the coffee room, printer maintenance, team lunches/ dinners that are all put in place to keep employees happy, has been drastically cut down as companies transition to working from home. This is not to say that employers do not try to find other ways to show their employees appreciation, but it does not amount to as much as the cost of in-person work. Another benefit for employers is that with a work-from-home model, employers expand their search pool of valuable talent and skills to individuals worldwide. Potential employees are no longer confined to the company’s designated geographical location!
Change, in any form, can be scary, and the impact of technology in the workplace is particularly so due to how fast technology is progressing and how ubiquitous technology is. Technology, computers, projectors, smartphones, automation, and AI can enhance or negatively affect companies depending on how it is implemented. The point of the matter is, technology is the future of work. If you can adapt to these changes in the employment landscape, you already have one foot in the future.