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Third of knowledge workers expect their jobs to be computerised in five years

Knowledge workers realise their jobs will either change dramatically or disappear as the result of new technology, according to research

Over a third (35%) of knowledge workers don’t think their roles will exist in five years as a result of technology advancement.

While artificial intelligence and automation software is seen as the biggest threat to roles carried out by people, collaboration technology will also have an impact.

This is according to research from Atos’s communications and collaboration unit Unify, which surveyed 9,000 knowledge workers – people who “have to think for a living” – in the US, UK and Germany.

The Way we work study also revealed that 65% of knowledge workers expect their roles to change in five years. It found that technology is changing working habits and styles, with 52% of knowledge workers more regularly working in virtual teams across different locations.

Of these workers, 42% think virtual teams can be more effective than face-to-face teams, while 49% said their company operates through technology and communication rather than through offices and locations.

Using technology enables workers to collaborate with more people, and 36% of those surveyed said creative thinking is one of the biggest benefits of this.

“Today, knowledge workers have an unrivalled freedom in how they connect and engage with each other. This has been provided to them, by and large, through technology,” said Unify CEO Jon Pritchard.

“The Way we work study shows the significant impact that technology, the trend of digital transformation and the on-demand economy is currently having on the workplace. It’s our belief that knowledge workers will increasingly want to define how, when and where they work.”

In 2013 research, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne estimated the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations. The study – The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? – listed the jobs and, using a methodology, estimated the probability of their computerisation.

See from the list below whether your job is at risk of being taken over by a computer (0% = non-computerisable, 100% = computerisable).

  • Telemarketers – 99%
  • Accountants and auditors – 94%
  • Retail salespeople – 92%
  • Word processors and typists – 8%
  • Machinists – 65%
  • Commercial pilots – 55%
  • Actors – 37%
  • Firefighters – 17%
  • Chemical engineers – 2%
  • Recreational therapists – 0.3%

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