The world of work is an ever changing platform where businesses are perpetually striving to trim the expensive outgoings, improve productivity and increase profit margins. Technology is the key for most companies to cultivate better work practices and lessen the burden on their bank balance.
Throughout history, the face of the workplace changed and evolved at a phenomenal pace. Our ancestors had defined working roles as far back as the first human civilizations, where men hunted and women gathered. As the populations grew, the workplace developed into family farm models, where each member of the family or tribe would work on the land. These workers were multi talented and they would build their own housing and tools, as well as cultivating the land.
Changing face of the workplace:
As civilization started congregating in cities and the populations exploded, the family farming model evolved into a manufacturing workplace. Large populations require vast resources, and the cities provided an abundant workforce to manufacture all the necessary products. Housing, water, transport, heating and food requirements for the masses meant factories were quickly established in the cities.
The world wars provided a boom in manufacturing, but booms always end and the post war eras saw returning veterans move into a different world of work. Offices were established and industries diversified again into the services sector.
The advent of the internet in the late 1980’s changed the face of the workplace once more, with computers capable of handling, storing and analyzing vast swathes of information that traditionally required large numbers of staff to administrate. Good news for businesses - but what about the workers?
Today there are even machines that can produce a ‘self made road’, laying up to 400 metres of bricks a day, as opposed to the 75 – 100 square metres that a single paver could lay. Yes – the machine will require workers to run, supervise and feed the bricks in, but fewer workers are required to do that than build the road in the traditional backbreaking way on their knees.
Machinery advances have led to greater production in terms of quantity of goods produced or harvested but these advances are at the expense of jobs for the workers. When less staff is required to achieve the same or better results, how do we as workers evolve to ensure our job prospects are not harmed by such advances in technology?
The sad reality is that technological innovation will continue to find ways for machines to perform the roles that traditionally required human interaction. And in many ways this is a good thing. It will bring about greater efficiency, discoveries and productivity. But each worker must ensure that they stay important in the job that they are employed to do.
How to stay relevant in your role in the workplace:
The best way to stay relevant and useful in your role in the face of technological advances is to be aware of the changes and be prepared to accommodate them into your skills base as best you can. Education is the most important tool at your disposal. There are always new courses that you can take as a job seeker to brush up your skills in areas where you are losing the competitive edge. The internet allows you access to an almost unlimited amount of resources to teach you new crafts online. There are free courses available which you can do at your leisure around your existing hours of work.
Learn a new language
Another way to stay important in your role is to start learning a new language. The world that we live in today involves a global market for almost every commodity, and employers want candidates with as wide a reach as possible. If you can converse with more clients from a range of countries then you will be a very useful employee worth retaining at all costs.
Above all show your employers that you value learning on the job and in your own time. As new workplace technologies become available in your sector, show that you will embrace the changes. Occasionally research any new developments that may be coming your way, to ensure that you will still be useful even if you have to retrain. As mentioned above, even new machines that can build roads cannot do so entirely by themselves – they still need a human hand to run and feed the bricks in. And if you are aware in advance that change is coming, you can prepare to be the person who will learn how to operate new machinery.