The future of digital labor.
Hardly a day goes by, it seems, without apocalyptic warnings that robots in the workplace will create a dystopian destiny. It’s true that many jobs will be reconfigured and redesigned, and employees will be required to learn new skills. Certain jobs will be replaced, possibly many. But it’s also true that new jobs will be created.
For decision makers concerned with the role of people in organizations, the key question seems to be, “should we be pessimistic or optimistic?” The answer depends in part on how leaders tackle the following challenges:
When the future appears to rush towards us it’s easy to forget that we can choose what it will look like. At this point we see a continuum of three possible scenarios:
Despite the lingering questions over the rising role of robots in the workplace, we believe a counter-balancing dynamic will take hold. Job creation will be on the agenda after all, along with an imperative for innovation and agility. As new businesses and offerings are developed, people will be needed to build, lead, maintain and market them. Whichever future unfolds it will be better for us all if we steered toward a preferable future as opposed to the one that just happens to us. This will require organizations and, in particular, governments to think differently about their organizations, the roles within them and how people are reskilled throughout their lifetime.
This, then, becomes the call to arms for the leaders of organizations and governments: to lead the conversation, preempt, understand and manage the changes, and – above all – get ready for the rise of the humans.