“Bob, we’d like you to come into our online office for a second.”
“O.K. What’s this about?”
“We’re letting you go Bob.”
“Who’s taking my job?”
“So you brought me into a faux online office to tell me that I’m being fired in favor of a robot?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Bob is one of the countless people to whom technology, apps, and the gig economy most assuredly feels like a foe. Bob could be a travel agent, a dispatcher, or one of many other jobs that have or could potentially lose their jobs in the ever changing economy. Very few are immune. Can you see a world without store cashiers, bank tellers, or data entry associates? Let me save you the drama; the answer is yes.
The ironic thing is that what is so great about technology is also its most fatal flaw. The ability to bring things cheaper/better to the common man is also wiping out jobs of the same common man that technology is out to help.
Many have credited Trump’s victory in the presidential election to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the rust belt. These voters are understandably pissed off and are listening to Trump’s promises that he will bring these jobs back. The problem is that neither Trump, nor anyone else for that matter, will be bringing these jobs back. They are lost to big, bad technology.
The day where the majority of manufacturing work was being done by humans is long gone. That ship has sailed. A company can save millions and millions of dollars by having manufacturing done by robots, or their equivalent. They are much more reliable than humans (sorry human race), and can work at a considerably faster rate. If a company’s purpose is to make money than it’s a no-brainer to replace humans with robots when it comes to manufacturing. You save money, time, and your product is more reliable. That’s really the holy trinity for corporations.
So yes, technology has absolutely hurt many people and communities. I’m not immune to their suffering, and I hope new technology can turn them around. You see, I choose to look at the positive side. I’m a glass half full type of guy and I consider technology our friend. Let’s examine why.
“But Brian, those are more old school jobs at a brick and mortar workplace. I thought this blog was discussing the gig economy.”
Jeez, people, hold your horses. I was getting there. While the loss of manufacturing jobs by the millions is much more of a talking point, the effect of the gig economy on propping up the middle class is just as important. People like to focus on the jobs that the gig economy has eliminated, but they have provided many more jobs in return.
People often highlight that UBER has cost traditional cab drivers their jobs, but this is a bit too simplistic. These cab drivers may not drive for Yellow Cab anymore, but they can go and work for UBER just like anyone else. And the advantages are endless. You don’t have a strict work schedule and you can create your own hours. This could allow you to take a second job, spend nights with your family, whatever it may be. More input on your own work hours has never been a bad thing.
This highlights one of the overriding themes of the gig economy, and one that many people have a problem with: You better be willing to change. As I mentioned in last week’s column, people who used to work in the same job for 40 years is slowly becoming a thing of the past. There’s many more people now who will have to change their current job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is for the worse. Oftentimes, the apps being created are allowing you more say in your life. So while, they may not be the precise job you signed up for, their are still jobs out there for you, and usually in the same or closely related field. The new gig economy favors the movers/shakers and anyone willing to go hustle for a new job. I think that’s a good thing.
Let’s take a look at Veryfier (Yes, I know it’s self serving!) This app has been set up to allow people to have some piece of mind when buying an item they may be a bit unsure of. But the app is also creating jobs for people who may need them.
Let’s say you work at your local computer store. The Geek Squad and Genius Bar have made your job almost prehistoric, but with an app like Veryfier you may find yourself with extra business, verifying that a computer is in good working shape. You may have to be willing to make “house calls” and becoming mobile, but that’s just the way the world is headed., You aren’t going to be stuck in the same store for eight hours, but isn’t that a good thing?
So while we tend to focus on all the jobs that are potentially going to be lost to robots, I like to take the more positive view of jobs that will be created in the gig economy through apps. UBER has created millions of jobs to give people more discretionary income. The middle class may be shrinking, but there are going to be opportunities out there for people to supplement their income. We hear all the time about the jobs lost to technology, but we don’t focus enough on the jobs that they are creating as well, and this is most prevalent with all the new Apps out there.
People are scared about losing their jobs and it’s totally understandable. But that doesn’t mean doom and gloom for everyone. Apps and the gig economy are creating new jobs daily. What I will concede is that the way your job used to be carried out may well change, but that doesn’t mean the jobs aren’t there. You just have to be willing to change a little bit, and as they say Change isn’t such a bad thing.
Thanks for reading and see you next week.
90% responsible writer, 25% juvenile delinquent
follow me on Twitter : @fridayswithbigb