Automation: Man with Machine or Man vs. Machine?

With the digital wave sweeping across every aspect of our lives, workplaces have drastically transformed in the way they function. Gone are the days when offices were visually projected in the mind as a pile of files and stacks of paper work on desks. They were first replaced by hard drives, which are now backed up on the cloud. Every organisation is fast incorporating, or has already incorporated, automation.

Earlier, most jobs entirely depended on manual labour alone. Eventually, computer systems, laptops and even mobile phones, allowed employees to work with more flexibility in terms of location and access. The introduction of video conferencing lowered frequent travel expenses and saved a lot more time, allowing for better efficiency. As time went on, office networking systems became more technologically enhanced and less dependent on physical presence. People across locations are now able to connect and come together, for everything from conducting online workshops to resolving technical issues in the system, from their respective places.

Is paperless equal to jobless?

Although automation has brought about seemingly profitable transformations in the workplace, it has also posed the very real threat of machine replacing man. Hitherto labour-intensive jobs such as data entry and accounts management have now been completely replaced by technological systems. While it saves money, paper, space and time, it has removed the requirement of human forces. Just as in the previous years, the tasks that people do today will be inevitably automated in the coming years. But, at the end of the day, human judgement and discretion cannot be replaced in every context. This allows for more complex, higher-value tasks to be undertaken.

Tasks in administration and human resources have been widely automated over time. Today, recruitment processes such as onboarding of candidates and induction haven become paperless, and are conducted through online portals or mobile applications. Time and attendance records have been replaced by biometric thumb prints or web check-ins and check-outs. Even the traditional pay cheque is not so much a cheque anymore, but electronic statements that are password protected and sans physical signature requirements.

So, how do you future-proof your career?

AI home assistants, driverless cars, even breakfast cooked by a robot, are all depicting how machines are slowly overtaking the roles of humans. So, how do you make sure your job survives this battle? The good news is, there still are many things that need the human touch.

  • Creativity is irreplaceable: Originality can never be mechanical. Having a creative bent of mind is a prized asset for you and your team

  • Work harder on soft skills: The ability to connect on an inter-personal level and build professional relationships is extremely necessary for a healthy workplace and therefore, something that employers value highly

  • Leadership and communication: When it comes to hiring, leadership skills have been sought after by employers since its inception. Building greatly on your written and verbal communication skills is a necessity in this

  • Strategic and abstract thinking: While this more or less resonates with creativity, the ability to strategise and plan is a crucial part of business growth, and something that machines cannot achieve

  • Go big on social responsibility: Having volunteer work experience reveals an interesting side to your personality in the recruiter’s mind. It reflects compassion, selflessness and hard work, all of which make you only more attractive for the workplace

In this era of digital transformation, evolving and sustaining yourself is important, albeit not impossible. The answer lies in finding the right balance between the technological and the human.

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