“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. The popular French electronic band Daft Punk released their hymn to robotic efficiency back in 2001. It was a song about the potential of technology in speeding up the production process, while, at the same time, improving the performance of the workers. After twenty years, we have witnessed how the latest technologies have dramatically changed society and the world. In particular, I reckon that one of the areas that have been affected by an unprecedented revolution is the labor market.
My personal working history reflects these changes. About twenty years ago, when I landed my first job, computers were just a side accessory and, in many cases, merely used as multi-functional typewriters. Emails were already quite popular, but far from being a standard in communication. I spoke with people on the phone, and still wrote faxes and letters. Software were not very accessible and, sometimes, not extremely user-friendly for someone that did not work in the IT industry. The internet was starting to populate its ethereal space with single page websites, and search engines were a pale copy of the fast and efficient algorithm powered tools we used today.
Let’s take a quantum leap to 2021. Today, I could not think of a job that, at some stage, does not require the use of a computer. My current work schedule relies on the extensive computer use, which occupies about 99% of my daily routine. I work remotely, meet with colleagues through a camera and I use all sorts of software to speed up my work.
Remote work is probably one of the biggest revolutions in the history of the modern labor market. There are two main reasons behind the possibility of working from home. The first is the fact that technology, namely hardware and software, have become smaller, more powerful and cheaper. Not only that; computers are more secure and protected from hackers and malicious attacks. At the moment, I am a contractor. My office consists of a couple of PCs, a MacBook, a printer, a router and a voltage stabilizer. Even if I am not directly employed by a company, I can afford these tools and I also manage to upgrade them when needed.
Another crucial factor that has made remote work a reality is the availability of reliable high-speed internet connection. I am now able to share files in real time with my colleagues, chat online, access documents and quickly gather information over the internet. With the aid of a software management tool, it’s like I was in the office with my other colleagues. My boss can keep track of my performance and I can manage and assist my team without having to leave my home premises.
Is remote work an opportunity or a necessity? For sure, saving time in commuting it’s important, as my quality of life has improved. Plus, this way of working has allowed me to access job positions in three different countries, without even having to renew my passport! On the other hand, many companies have taken advantage of this situation, reducing the size of the physical office premises (therefore saving money) and having access to qualified talents virtually from anywhere in the world. In some cases, given the actual economic recession, affecting even many rich industrialized countries, businesses have been able to survive thanks to a leaner organization structure in which remote work is playing an important role.
One of the latest developments in technology is the extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI) in various fields of applications, such as customer service , translations, interactive consumer electronic devices, just to name a few. For my job, I often need to get in touch with companies who provide services and goods. Live chatbots allow me to access personalized information in practically no time. In case I need to speak to a physical person, I can opt for an online meeting, but the AI-powered chat has often given me more than 60% of the information that I need in order to proceed with the purchase of the goods. It’s a fantastic time saver!
As in my business I often have to deal with people from different countries, I have started to use translation software that uses artificial intelligence to reach a high quality of translation, without the need of costly interpreting services.