How the Nature of Work is Evolving
Compared to fifty years ago, even hundred years ago, the nature of work has evolved beyond recognition, and will continue to do so.
17:10 18 December 2020
The development of technology and the digital age has shifted the way people do things. It’s created new systems and innovations that not only advance progression in the workplace, but also in society. Conversely, it evokes fear that unemployment rates will rise.This article will look deeper at how the nature of work is evolving.
Technology is a big catalyst for the changes of work. It can be viewed as a double-edged sword, where some believe it is a positive shift for how work is done, saving time and effort, including how the economy grows and evolves by creating new opportunities and improving the quality of people’s living standards, healthcare, and education. Others believe, and fear, that technology is threatening their livelihood and jobs. The question is, are human skills still needed when a machine, or AI (Artificial Intelligence), can be programmed to replace these skills? Is the rise of technology equally beneficial to everyone or just a select few?
Artificially-enabled jobs are replacing jobs done by humans, especially service jobs, which raise concerns about the employment rates of the younger generation who need work. Currently, the IFR (International Federation of Robotics) forecasts that factories worldwide will install 1.7 million new industrial robots. The rise in robotic production is due to increased demands from the manufacturing industry, speedier business cycles, and more efficient production systems.
On the other side of the coin, some estimations indicate that technological progress also increases the demand for work, especially in the technology industry. Mobile electronic devices are a primary example - the number of unique mobile users is estimated to grow by 2% per year and is currently over 5 billion.
The Nature of Firms in the Digital Age
Technology also affects how firms change and evolve, creating new business models and systems, which allow them to increase their production rates, as well as their overall success. Technology primarily benefits larger, more productive firms, which add more value to the global economy and more growth for developing countries.
The digital age has changed the way firms do business, especially brick-and-mortar businesses like shops. With digital resources brands have a wider social reach and clients/shoppers are not limited to only one localized store. The digital age is a bridge between brands and customers.
An increase in platform-based businesses is a worldwide occurrence as it creates job opportunities almost at the touch of a button. It creates a lot more freedom in how people choose to work, especially the gig economy and freelancing, they can set their hours and work from anywhere. Additionally, the online world, or cloud, is home to thousands of businesses, and remote work gives anyone the chance to try something without needing to be physically present.
Almost every business has a website, which in turn leads to more job opportunities in the web development and design industries. These have become lucrative areas of work and business, and the way users experience an online website is simultaneous to walking into a brick-and-mortar shop - appearance is everything, if it’s untidy it will chase away a potential client. Similarly, statistics indicate that 94% of people’s impressions are based on the website’s design and 75% of a website’s credibility comes from its design; 38% of people will leave a website if it’s unattractive or not easy to navigate.
Technology is the primary driver for change in the 21st century, specifically its influence on the evolution of work. As much as it’s been a catalyst for positive change and creating job opportunities, it’s still a question of how much it will replace the value added by humans, however, human capital improves when learning new skills as discussed above.