How does work look like in 2030?
-a brief perspective
This is a topic we are all fascinated by. What impact will digital technology, process automation, robotics, machine learning and other major advances have? Will all jobs be done by machines? Will the days of going to work in an office or factory no longer be needed? How quickly might this all happen?
2030 is only 12 years away and the speed of change and development is breath-taking. One thing we can perhaps take comfort from is that as much as technology can provide new sources of advantage, the business world still very much needs its human workers. We can remember the headlines about how computers would lead to the paperless office. Today, offices consumer more paper than ever before. We can remember the stories that videoconferencing and the mobile phone would make it unnecessary for us to meet. Today, there are more business miles flown than ever more. We can remember about how home broadband would make going into the office unnecessary. And sure, it does give us more flexibility, but many research studies encourage organisations to keep face to face meetings in offices to build communities, shared purpose, loyalties and support staff retention.
Technology will continue to change the world around us. There are many doomsayers talking about a world where humans will be replaced by machines. PWC for example have examined scenarios where only 10% of the workforce is employed in a full time job, where machines do not just do the manual work and routine processing but start to do the jobs of doctors, lawyers, soldiers and even our elected politicians. These sort of “scare” stories might sell more newspapers or look good on a headline but there are many more conservative commentators that take a much more positive view. For example the World Economic Forum talk about a shortage of talent across all areas from active fam labour through to software engineers, the OECD focus on how technology will help drive out global poverty and how it could mean more jobs as tech opens up new avenues of growth and development, McKinsey analysis concludes that less than 5% of jobs could be expected to be fully automated, that it will take “at least two decades for this to significantly impact”, that technology can help labor markets and encourage independent work leveraging digital platforms.
So while we can inevitably expect plenty of challenges as we move through the 2020’s, we can also expect high levels of continued demand for talented and industrious people across all industries and countries, at both manual and managerial levels. Jobs may change, skills required will evolve but humans at work will still be needed!
Michael de Kare-Silver