The world around us is full of choices: Burger or pizza? Hawaii or Maldives? Gym or yoga? Coffee or tea? Sedan or SUV? Chinese or Mexican? Sugar or spice? iOS or Android? The list goes on. The choices that we make in our personal lives reflect the way we want to live, work, and play. Some of us take our time making choices, while others can choose in a second. Is this process any different in the world of work?
We all know that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are fundamentally changing the way we work and create value. It is also true that the future of work will be based on how well companies blend and extend the abilities of humans and machines by making them collaborative. The future of work will be guided by the choices we make and the approaches we develop. As the pace of change accelerates, companies, individuals, and educational institutions will have to choose how they respond to our new reality. Here are some choices to consider:
- Analog or digital leadership?
- Longer working hours or shorter working hours?
- A wait-and-watch approach to automation and AI or act now in adopting them?
- Pessimistic or optimistic about the future of work and jobs?
- Keep workforce involved in repetitive and boring work or give them an opportunity to learn new things and add greater value to the business?
- Job automation or job enhancement?
- Allow a lack of diversity/inclusion or focus on diversity/inclusion to promote innovation?
- Work with insufficient budgets or reduce costs by automating drudgery work and leveraging savings to grow business?
- Promote a culture of not accepting failure or promote a culture of accepting failure to test new ideas and approaches?
- A slow, expensive, and cumbersome organizational structure or a dynamic structure that embraces change?
- Improve digital lip service (revamping the website, developing the mobile app, etc.) or become digital at the core (revenue driven from digital channels, etc.)?
- Base decisions on gut feelings or base decisions on data?
- Measure customer experience by numbers or measure customer experience by the wellbeing of the customer?
- Continue to face skillset challenges or work with academia and industry stakeholders to address challenges?
- Am I concerned about the impact of automation and AI on the future of work or am Iexcited about it?
- Do I fear job loss or do I embrace AI and automation as a means to enhance my job?
- Will my company provide the required training I need to acquire new skills or will I take the initiative to do it?
- Will I agree to work with machines or will I work against them?
- I trust machines or I don't trust them?
- Am I fixated on my current work or am I flexible to try out new things?
- Am I aware of the changes around me or am I oblivious to them?
- Is a job, "What I am supposed to do" or is a job "What I want to do"?
- Should I spend an extra two hours in the office or should I spend two hours with family by letting bots do all the repetitive work for me?
- Stay in my job for a longer period or job hop?
- Part-time or full-time work?
- Work for someone or work for myself?
- Learn once and be done or continue learning throughout life?
- Promote education as a means of securing a good job or promote education as a means to help students build their own future?
- Encourage students to pursue a career that provides social and financial security or encourage students to experiment and find the career they are passionate about?
- Prepare students to work with humans or prepare students to work alongside machines?
- Use traditional teaching methods and approaches or jettison traditional teaching methods?
- Use a one-to-many teaching technique or use a one-to-one teaching technique?
- Create content or curate content?
- Curriculum-based learning or flexible and responsive learning?
- Competency-based learning or knowledge-based learning?
- Course-based learning or lifelong learning?
- Promote teachers as subject-matter experts or promote teachers as learning coordinators?
Ultimately, it is unproductive and pointless to sit around and quibble about the rise of intelligent machines. The path we end up on will depend on our choices regarding how to invest in people, technology, tools, and processes. Companies, individuals, and educational institutions need to come together to discuss the choices we have now and the decisions we will need to make in the near to long-term future so that no one is left behind. By giving ourselves an opportunity to explore new ways of thinking, new jobs, new roles, and even new passions, perhaps choices will be easier to make. In fact, many of the choices we make today may seem serendipitous in the future.
So the work you do today or the future of your work? Whether you are involved in a business, teach at an educational institution, or are an individual navigating the world of work, take the time to consider the choices listed above and make some decisions. The time is now, and for now, the choice is yours.