Future of Work: More than a Machine

by Jeff Vijungco

posted on 06-26-2017

Are office workers concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) is coming for their jobs? Simply put: no. That’s according to a new study released by Adobe, The Future of Work: More than a Machine. We tapped more than 4,000 office workers in the U.S., U.K and Germany to tell us how technology is changing their jobs, what they think of advanced tech (like AI) in the workplace, and how confident they feel about the future of their careers.

In fact, instead of reporting anxiety about how future tech might diminish their roles, office workers are optimistic about how it can boost productivity and work for them.

We’re Here to Stay

Humans don’t feel like they’re just a cog in a machine. Our study shows that office workers are confident that they’ll continue to matter in the workplace, even in a world of fast-developing technology. Specifically, two-thirds of U.S. office workers think their job requires human abilities that tech will never replace (68 percent in the U.K. and 60 percent in Germany said the same). That’s 11 percent higher than the number of U.S. respondents who felt irreplaceable in our Work In Progress study last year.

But this doesn’t come without some anxiety. Only about 30 percent of U.S. and German office workers and 19 percent of U.K. office workers feel very equipped to succeed in the future of technology-rich work environments.

Overall, these findings suggest that people are open to change, but they want to be prepared for it. As long as employees adopt a learn-it-all mindset, and companies design user-centric technology that’s intuitive, technology and work should evolve hand in hand.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Workers also told us that, far from feeling alienated by technology in the office, their human relationships are growing stronger. Eighty-two percent of respondents in the U.S. said that technology helps them connect better with co-workers, as did 73 percent of people in the U.K. and Germany.

And these respondents think the ability to work together is something that will only improve—eight in ten said that office workers of the future will be better collaborators.

There’s Nothing Artificial about Intelligence

Not surprisingly, we found that people want AI to help with simple administrative tasks. Seventy-two percent of U.S. office workers, 76 percent of those in Germany, and 66 percent of workers in the U.K. are interested in using intelligent personal assistants—such as tools like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home—that use voice to search the internet or make to-do lists. They want help with tasks such as reminders for tasks and appointments (49 percent of respondents in the U.S., 46 percent in the U.K. and 26 percent in Germany) and finding or editing electronic documents (25 percent in U.S, 28 percent in the U.K. and 26 percent in Germany).

But even though they’re ready to let AI do simple tasks for them, they don’t seem to understand its full potential. Only a small number of office workers are interested in AI helping them with creative recommendations or inspiring content for writing or design tasks (18 percent in the U.S., 16 percent in the U.K. and 20 percent in Germany).

This will likely change in the near future, as companies begin to stretch AI in ways we never even imagined. After all, AI is ultimately designed to make our lives easier. Workers should be asking themselves how AI can complete menial tasks for them so they get more free time innovating and being productive. Not to mention how AI may even be able to work for you as a consultant rather than an assistant—like charting out your career path based on your current role and aspirations.

Needless to say, it will be fascinating to see how our jobs and the jobs around us will change as AI comes of age.

Think Tank

Learn more about our findings and join us at our Think Tank in Berlin today. We’ll talk more about the report, and what it means for the future of tech and work.

Adobe Think Tanks are in-person forums for sharing ideas among luminaries at the cutting edge of technology, communication and creativity in a variety of disciplines. Past Think Tanks include The Future of Digital Experiences, The Future of Work, and The Internet of Things. Join the conversation by following @AdobeDocCLoud, and #AdobeTT on Twitter and visiting Think Tank by Adobe for more information.

[slideshare id=77284086&doc=adobe-fow-infographics-6-25-17final-170627014913]

Topics: Leadership, Future of Work