The Future of Work

By Ian Pearson

Many jobs didn’t exist a decade ago. New technology creates new jobs, but can eradicate jobs too. Below, Ian Pearson discusses the future of work and technology, and addresses the business and managerial impacts of future technology, future careers, and the restructuring of offices.



Many jobs didn’t exist a decade ago. Think of people who design web sites or ring tones for mobiles. New technology creates new jobs, but can eradicate jobs too. Many people are employed as smart cogs in big machines. Machines will replace them. Administrative and agency jobs will be frequently eliminated over the next few years, adding up to perhaps a third of employees in big companies. Knowledge workers will follow soon after.

Fortunately, few people do only knowledge work. Most jobs include a proportion of human centric activity, which is harder to automate. This work includes some management, leadership, influencing, counselling, teaching, policing, entertaining, sports, personal services, and care work. As other areas of work are automated, human-centric parts will expand, and ultimately form the basis of the economy. Let’s call it the Care Economy. For example, in call centres, automated voice response could already deal with most routine calls. Some managers may make some such workers redundant, but better managers will move them up the value chain, allowing them to deal with more complex calls, offer more personal help, and make callers feel warm about doing business with their company. Almost instant response for simple transactions will come via computers. Machines effectively force us to concentrate on being human. This is likely to protect customer facing jobs, even while internal jobs are eradicated. Companies of the future will have a visible human shell and a machine core.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.