If your job was threatened by technology, what would you do?

Workforce optimism about the impact of disruptive technology on careers should be welcomed, but cannot be taken for granted

If your job was threatened by technology, what would you do?

The world of work is set to be completely transformed by technology. Evolution of industry in this time of technological revolution could emerge rapidly or gradually over the coming decades. While the speed of change may be a matter of debate, the reality of this transformation is inevitable.

In recent research, Epson sought to explore the workplace of tomorrow, interviewing thought leaders alongside more than 7,000 members of the European workforce in-order-to deliver insight into the change ahead and the expected impact of it. Our research reveals a future where efficiencies gained through technology such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality will transform the workplace as we know it. How corporations evolve to integrate these technologies could define the difference between staying competitive, or falling drastically behind.

Beyond organisational change, however, this future of work will also require an evolution of individual understanding of new technology. Workers must learn to adapt and develop the skills to grow alongside this technological revolution.

What workers understand about change

Epson’s research reveals that overall, European workers are aware of the wealth of change technology could bring, and they remain largely optimistic. When shown how technology could shape their workplaces, 72 percent were optimistic about the future, with 65 percent of respondents expressing a positive willingness to retrain for new roles if needed. That willingness to adapt will be vital in dictating the future of individual workers.

At an organisational level, change will require significant commitment to communication if workers are to be positively engaged to embrace workplace changes. Our study shows that surprisingly, 6 percent of employees would deliberately disrupt the introduction of technology if they felt their job was threatened.  More startling is that this figure rises to 17 percent when asking senior management.

These revelations draw some unmistakable historic parallels with the Luddite Rebellion of the British Industrial Revolution, a time of disruption which presents an iconic and enduring image of workers’ reactions to technological revolution. While popular perception perhaps sets these workers as vehement opponents of new technologies, others might view the way in which this technological transformation was implemented as the primary catalyst for their impassioned protests. These are the parallels organisations must surely work to avoid.

Change and benefits

Ultimately technology sits ready to deliver substantial benefits to businesses, workforces and the vital individual workers which power them. It is also clear from our findings that overall the majority of employees are ready to engage with these technological changes. Yet hurdles to their implementation remain and ensuring employees are part of the implementation discussion and process is imperative.

Alongside the sector-wide challenges, we will be forced to overcome sector-specific hurdles which vary significantly in both their nature and complexity, something we will explore in more detail in articles to come.

The primary questions remains - as individuals, will we take it upon ourselves to ensure the roll out of technology is successfully delivered? Going further, are we ourselves willing to go out of our way to develop and understand the skills required to ensure success?

Want to know more?

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