The Future Of Work: The Rise Of Workers Who Self Automate Their Jobs

We know AI and automation will transform the nature of the activities within jobs as leaders, we need to ask a new question: what happens when either full time workers or gig workers self automate their jobs? Actually, this question was asked by a programmer on The Workplace Stack Exchange, one of the web’s most important forums for programmers with the post: “Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer I’ve automated my job?”. This question was viewed over 480,000 times and asks us to address an emerging issue in the workplace: if workers’ self automate their jobs, who benefits and what is the impact on other jobs? While the threat of automation is playing itself out in the media, some workers have taken matters into their own hands and started to automate various aspects of their jobs from data entry to inventory management and database administration. Self automating jobs are gaining steam among programmers, but workers across other business functions are automating their jobs as well. While many knowledge workers routinely sign employment contracts stipulating that any intellectual property developed on company time belongs to the employer, should this continue to be the norm as jobs are being automated by technology? If a worker creates an efficiency “Hack”, why not reward this, communicate it company-wide, and identify ways the worker can use their new found time at work to develop additional skills? We must ask ourselves this: will self automation become a new skill set for workers? How can we encourage workers to look for ways to automate parts of their jobs, and in the process, reclaim parts of their work day. “We don’t want workers who self automate to keep this to themselves. We want to reward their agility and curiosity.” Often companies focus only on finding organizational productivity gains, but the time is now to recognize workers who discover personal productivity gains. HR, business and IT leaders need to start discussing how some workers have self automated parts of their jobs, increased their productivity and satisfaction at work, as well as developed new skills adding more value to their jobs.

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