We all hear people worrying about automation, how it’s going to take jobs away, how AI will be a danger for a lot of industries. I agree, automation will change things. But I disagree with the premise that it should be fought. I work by, is simple: if it’s getting repetitive, it’s boring and a computer should be able to do that for me.
In the past couple of years, I developed a pattern of optimising and automating tasks, which led to me having less work to do. Sometimes even making sure that my position could disappear. Did I mind? Not at all. Because I was part of the process, part of the solution. Automation is something you need to be active in. In a position where automation is possible, you are the person who knows how things work, the flow of data or processes, what key points need attention and so on. You are best suited to help develop a tool that makes your job easier, or even obsolete. You hold the key to a successful automation. You may be thinking that you are endangering your source of income, but you actually have the opportunity to become an expert.
I have been working in companies where change wasn’t part of the DNA. When I put a lot of time in building an Excel file with complicated formulas that tried to remove as much manual work as possible, my supervisor would tell me to stop doing that and make it easier for myself by just doing the input and doing the calculations line per line. . I’d nod and still do it (I might be a little stubborn). It would take me 4 hours to build up that file, while before it took 2 to prepare. Except I knew that same question would come up again. and when the next month I had to prepare a similar report, 5 minutes later I could deliver it, because I only needed to adapt the parameters. Suddenly the extra time I put in the previous month was already more than compensated.
I ended up doing this for a lot of reports working with Access and Excel, helping colleagues out with their tasks by showing them how to use the tools they had. A couple of months later, a job that used to be more than a full-time position, turned into something that took less than 30 minutes a day, and could easily be spread out between my colleagues. and my contract was terminated because the position was no longer needed. You could argue that by my actions I made myself useless, and that’s exactly what made me interesting for my next positions. . I was someone who could help companies safe money by rethinking the way they worked. . It is one of the aspects that make me an asset. Do I regret it? Not at all! ! It gives me the opportunity to tackle my job in a way that is more challenging and entertaining, than having to be a mindless robot doing input.
This experience can be transposed to a lot of people, in different roles. To the people who have that kind of jobs: try to think about how you can make your life easier, sometimes it gives you more time and makes your life easier, sometimes it allows you to get a new perspective on your job. To the people managing that kind of jobs: don’t try to prevent people from thinking like that, you should encourage it. Try helping people by training them in using those tools, invite them to question why things are done a certain way (and answering “because we always did it this way” is not a valid answer). But most of all: accept that things are bound to be more and more automated so ask yourself: would you rather wait for the moment that you are obsolete, or would you prefer being one of the people who get to enable these changes elsewhere?