How will technology change our jobs?

Research shows that European workers expect technology to make their work less stressful, more flexible and more creative – are they ready?

How will technology change our jobs?

At Epson we’re keen to explore the impact that technological transformation is having on the workplace. With the help of new research, the sheer scope of that impact is becoming clear. In our first blog in this series, ‘How will technology change business?’ we explored how European workers expect businesses to change over the next decade, and how companies should prepare.                                                               

In this article, we will move on to explore the impact of these changes on individual workers and their day-to-day roles.

It’s evident that technological impact is a consideration for European workers.  Almost half (48%), believe that technology will directly disrupt their role within the workplace, and 6 percent go so far as to argue that their individual roles will no longer exist in a decade.

The sentiment sits against a background of stark global warnings. In a 2016 report The World Economic Forum estimated the net loss of jobs to robotic automation alone could reach 5.1 million in 15 leading global economies by 20211. So are employees right to be concerned?

Efficient roles

If we’re to avoid the trap of imagining technology simply as a threat to jobs, we must embrace the opportunities unlocked by it, as presented by our research findings.  Contrary to the negative headlines outlining job losses, there is positivity among the workforce for how job roles are expected to develop.  One third of European workers believe that their roles will become more efficient as a result of technology, as well as becoming more productive, more accurate and more analytical, with those in manufacturing and retail agreeing that increased efficiency would deliver the greatest benefit.

But it’s not simply the efficiency of our operations, but their nature as well that is expected to evolve.  For example, 21 percent of employees believe technological transformation will result in their roles becoming more creative.

Communicating in a changing workplace

Our workplace environments will equally undergo change. Almost half of respondents believed workplaces will become more monitored and controlled, but flexibility will also emerge, with 38 percent of respondents believing technology will result in more flexible working hours. Conversely, only 19 percent think their work will become more exhausting and demanding, highlighting an expected trend towards better work-life balance.

Communicating the impact of this workplace transformation will be vital. Only 62 percent of workers currently believe their organisations are good or excellent at communicating the impact of technological change. This falls to just 57 percent when communicating change around specific job roles. Furthermore, only 54 percent of respondents said their organisations are good or excellent at engaging impacted employees in the decision process. That leaves almost half of business failing to communicate appropriately about the impact of key technological change.

Preparation is vital

If organisations wish to be positioned to take advantage of technological transformation, individual workers must be prepared. Only 65 percent of respondents believe their organisation is good or excellent at training employees to use technology, with only 47 percent holding the view their organisations are good at re-training potentially redundant employees.

In an environment where 60 percent of European workers believed their organisations are good or excellent at recruiting new employees, our research reveals a possible future in which skills are acquired rather than developed. In a workplace that is rapidly changing, supporting employees to adapt while acquiring the appropriate new talent could ultimately be vital.

Want to know more?

The full report has all the insights, you can download it here