What Jobs Roles Will You Automate?

The pandemic has put many areas of working life into harsh perspective. Our need for human contact is being eclipsed by our need for safe distancing. So what job roles will you automate to protect your business operations and workers? 

As the world went into lockdown in the first half of 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of the first pandemic since the early 1900s, many people were lucky enough to continue their work and schooling from the safety of their homes. Many more people were not so lucky.

From celebrities to factory workers, it has become clear that so many job roles are either unnecessary or replaceable with automated technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning bots.

While there are some jobs that require empathy, an emotional skill that machines have yet to be imbued with, other jobs that require rote learning are easily replaced, and some of those potential automated jobs are surprising.

A surgeon’s skill is replaceable, but the surgeon themselves is not.

While a nurse is a carer who listens, applies their skills and learning in empathetic ways to make the best judgements about a patients comfort and needs. Nurses already use technology to help them with lifting people from beds, monitoring homeostasis and administering medications.

A surgeon’s skill is replaceable, but the surgeon themselves is not. There is already much use of automated processes in surgery, and doctors are welcoming the assistance of bots that can make smaller incisions, meaning reduced blood loss and faster healing times. What automation can’t do is make fast decisions about what is best for the patent. Surgeons and nurses are still required in the operating room, but they can do the work of carers, applying their knowledge to offer the best outcomes for patients and help to advance our medical knowledge.

However, there are some jobs that require empathy that society is fast learning to move away from. Retail check out points has been a big advantage for supermarkets during the pandemic. Workers can be better protected since they do not have to have any contact with customers, and the staff numbers required to operate a store are reduced.

What we have also learned through the lockdown is that people are lonely.

While some businesses are looking to automate rote tasks, many people are becoming increasingly concerned that the job market will be further reduced as the pandemic is proving that much of what was only semiautomated can be fully automated.

Yet, what we have also learned through the lockdown is that people are lonely. The automation of many menial jobs has lead to the isolation of people from each other and leaving many in despair about what opportunities they might have in the future. There are many people who want nothing more than to drive a public bus all day, seeing smiling faces and travelling around their city. It is these people that automation threatens the most.

As an employer, deciding which jobs are essential as human-based and which can be automated is, usually, a financial decision. There are some tasks that are better performed by automated processes. Repetitive tasks are not only more accurately performed by computers, but they are also much faster.

Most researchers agree that automation in the following industries will increase in the next decade:

  • Insurance underwriting
  • Warehousing and manufacturing
  • Customer service
  • Research and data entry
  • Pharmaceutical discovery
  • Baking and retail checkout
  • Outbound sales
  • Fast food services
  • Delivery services

All of these industries require people to learning systems and perform repetitive tasks. Computers prove to be better than humans at this on a basic level. So where does that leave the people who are working in these jobs?

There are still many positions available for people, and the people who are required to fill those roles need to be from a variety of backgrounds, education levels and skillsets to ensure the automation process works.

Creative thinking and critical analysis are still beyond the ken of AI and ML. Empathy levels are varied in all people, but what the emotional skill beings to our work, and workplaces, has yet to be understood in any teachable terms. While we can develop this ability in ourselves, the basis of empathy is in our personal moral tolerances. These finer details of our human existence are in constant question. Some industries that will continue to need human input are:

  • Physical therapies
  • Social services
  • Emergency response
  • Arts and dance
  • Teaching
  • Healthcare
  • Mechanics
  • Writing and design

While as an employer you might choose to use bots to respond to customer queries, you still require the human input to manage those queries. You might have a warehouse filled with automated processes, but you still need a few humans to check on the accuracy of the work.

People are not yet replaceable by bots. The same fears people faced at the turn of the industrial revolution are being felt by people today. Yes, many people were temporarily out of work as the production line was developed, until people were retrained and they upskilled to become supervisors of the production lines. The same will happen with the tech revolution.

As an employer, it is wise to identify now which tasks you were able to automate during the lockdown, which required human input and which tasks were simply better performed by your team.