Digital tools can help individuals and organizations work more efficiently and effectively without burning out or sacrificing work-life balance, says Karl Escritt, CEO of Like Digital & Partners.
From chatbots to virtual assistants, there’s no denying that artificial intelligence (AI) is already deeply embedded in our day-to-day lives. When we talk about AI, however, there still seems to be an undercurrent of fear that ‘the robots are coming for our jobs’. And while it’s true that some roles will be made obsolete as technology continues to evolve, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, I believe the benefits of AI in the workplace far outweigh the potential threats, especially if we use AI tools to our own advantage to improve our work-life balance.
To put AI’s role in the future of work in perspective, a recent report by McKinsey suggests that about half the activities currently carried out by the world’s workers could be automated—the key word here being ‘activities’, not jobs. The authors predict that about 30 percent of the activities in 60 percent of occupations could be automated by 2030. The report states that “nearly all occupations will be affected by automation, but only about 5 percent of occupations could be fully automated by currently demonstrated technologies.”
Some industries will be harder hit than others, with greater scope to replace repetitive manual tasks with automation. Roles that require people management, niche expertise, and interfacing with stakeholders are less susceptible to automation, as these ‘soft’, interpersonal skills are still the sole domain of humans.
So how do we future-proof ourselves and ensure we’re harnessing the powers of AI rather than pushing against them? Here are some of the ways digital tools can help us work more efficiently and effectively, freeing us up to spend more time ideating, collaborating, and creating, and promoting a greater work-life balance.
Automation of routine and repetitive tasks
One of the most obvious and far-reaching benefits of AI is the automation of routine and repetitive tasks. There are a range of AI-driven tools already on the market that can help streamline your more monotonous daily tasks, such as data entry, summarizing articles and drafting emails, boosting your productivity and freeing you up to perform more fulfilling activities.
Project management tools
In an office or team environment, AI-powered project management tools can streamline workflows and enhance collaboration, reducing administrative responsibilities to allow more bandwidth for creativity and execution. From summarizing meeting notes to estimating project costs and forecasting resource needs, the best AI project-management tools are like having a whole team of PMs at your fingertips.
Supporting mental wellbeing
Employers can help ensure their teams are at the top of their game with AI tools dedicated to workplace mental health and wellbeing. From platforms designed to recognize emotions and detect early signs of burnout to virtual coaching programs and AI-powered EAPs (employee assistance programs), there are a host of ways employers can use AI to support and nurture their teams.
In our always-on lives, there simply aren’t enough minutes in the day to process all the strands of information available to us. AI algorithms can help professionals make more informed decisions by analyzing huge streams of data, often in the amount of time it takes to make a coffee.
Even the most organized among us can benefit from enhanced time management to free up some much-needed minutes in our days. AI tools such as virtual assistants and smart calendars that more efficiently schedule your tasks allow you to prioritize your workload more effectively and make more time for the things that really matter in life, such as family, friends, and fitness.
AI is already shaping the way we write—from using predictive text in your iPhone messages to Gmail’s email composer—and saving us time in the process. Many of us are also starting to dabble with AI-powered language models such as ChatGPT, which can answer technical questions, write our weekly meal plans, and process vast amounts of information into more digestible content forms. When used and attributed correctly, these tools can save us time and streamline our communication.
While AI is great for streamlining repetitive basic tasks, at the other end of the spectrum, it is bringing previously unimaginable levels of accuracy and insight into an array of fields, from medicine to the military. AI tools can analyze and process vast amounts of data at a microscopic level while eliminating the margin of human error. When it comes to medical diagnostics, AI is being used to review X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, flag abnormalities for early detection of diseases, and use algorithms to diagnose and treat patients. And surely improving our health and longevity is the biggest key to achieving work-life balance.