The common narrative around AI and robotic process automation (RPA) is that these technologies are job-killers and will make humans obsolete in the workplace. But smarter heads know that this is an overdramatic misconception. Rather than feed into this doomsday prognostication, embracing the many benefits of AI and RPA is the much more level-headed play. These technologies can actually empower employees to be more efficient so that they can strike a better work-life balance. And contrary to popular opinion, they can help people grow in their careers and actually create jobs, rather than destroy them.
Though nascent technologies, AI and RPA’s ability to solve common business problems and simplify business operations, particularly through the levels of automation they provide, is revolutionizing a wide array of industries. AI proves extremely adept at automating aspects of jobs that humans perform poorly and inefficiently, removing them from the equation and redistributing them to more important roles. This allows humans to spend less time performing cumbersome or even dangerous duties, thus freeing them up to explore more creative or thought-based duties.
That increased productivity and efficiency, along with the extra time it affords, can directly impact a person’s work-life balance. The ISG Automation Index found that RPA can take on more than 1/3 of an employee’s time-consuming work, allowing them to reclaim their time and decrease their levels of stress, thus translating into a better relationship between life and work. The cumbersome work that RPA is blazes at automating includes but is not limited to things like scheduling, structuring, distributing and organizing—work that most people don’t want to do anyway. By taking these mind-numbing tasks off of people’s plates, AI and RPA enable employees to spend more time doing the work they enjoy, making their professional lives more fulfilling in the process.
As many fields become increasingly automated, human employees will still be a vital component to businesses despite AI and automation taking over some aspects of their roles. It’s far too black-and-white to peg AI as a job-killer; rather, AI should be viewed as a job redistributor, one that will actually bolster many people’s career trajectories. Automated systems and robotics will inevitably face bottlenecks and hiccups. Humans will need to be on-hand and have knowledge of these duties and the automated systems now performing them in order to keep business operations running smooth.
Research is showing that a majority of people are optimistic about AI’s impact on the workforce, while 65% of people believe technology like AI and RPA can increase the number of jobs available. Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, are a good example of this phenomena. According to a report in The Economist, many feared tellers and bank branches would close when ATMs were first introduced. ATMs did lower the number of tellers at branches in general, but it turns out the machines enabled banks to open more branches in more locations, raising the total number of bank tellers across the country. The ATM did have an impact on workers, but only for as long as it took to understand what workers could be doing elsewhere that the ATM couldn’t.
Of those who have lost their jobs due to AI and RPA, the majority don’t view the technology as a wholly negative. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center report, these workers are about three times more likely to be enthusiastic about AI and automation in general. The majority of these workers also believe the economy will become more efficient as a result and that many new, well-paying jobs will result from automation’s progress. An economy with an influx of well-paying jobs means greater opportunities for career advancement.
Automation’s effect on the workforce will reverberate for the rest of history, especially as AI and RPA continue to evolve. Today, we are just starting to witness the first ripples. In fact, economists have observed a fairly reliable trend when new, disruptive technology is introduced into the workforce: the need for new workers almost always increases. As AI and RPA facilitate the creation of more well-paying jobs that automate soul-crushing administrative tasks and liberate people to focus on more creative, thought-provoking work, employees will have more chances to climb the corporate ladder and achieve better harmony in both their personal and professional lives.