02.02.18

AI and Workplace Issues Top of 2018 List

Kate Allen, Millennial Blogger

A recent Fast Company article cited five issues facing the workplace that we will undoubtedly have to talk about and face in 2018. My millennial point of view is through the lens of someone who is fairly new to the adult, full-time workforce. However, I am not new to the social issues and technology facing said work force. Here are the 3 issues I found most intriguing:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and the dawn of the robots. Let’s talk about this! Whether you think Amazon’s Alexa is creepy or not (she is), more technology just like her (Lyft, Roomba vacuum) continue to emerge. I’ve read several articles in the past six months talking about what all of the new robots and AI will mean for jobs in the future.
    While I don’t think the robots are going to infringe on all our jobs and render us useless and unemployed in 2018, I do think that anyone who is unclear on AI and today’s technology should either ask a millennial (use your mixed work space!), reach out to an expert, enroll in a class, or attend a seminar on the subject. It’s incredible how much less scary things become when you understand them. Not to mention, the business practices of many of the AI companies are fascinating and could help you approach your own workplace issues and strategies in a different light.
  2. Workplace harassment and unequal pay. These two issues have been murmured about for what seems like forever. The difference is that one issue has been swept under the rug while the other was fought for with a little more gusto in the past…until 2017. The way that societal and political changes are moving today will assuredly change how we handle these issues in 2018. This is namely because women are tired of the system failing us with silence and indecision. Also, frankly, we’ve seen more results come about when we fight for issues ourselves. We can anticipate no-tolerance harassment policies alongside more aggressive approaches taken toward reaching the destination of equal pay. It’s an exciting time to be a woman.
  3. The structure of the American workplace. It is shifting and will probably continue to do so. It is changing from a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. system with seniority in years showing equivalence to superiority in position and power in the workplace. Technology has enabled companies to extend the benefit of working remotely to full-time employees (depending on your field of expertise). Companies are starting to realize and reap the benefits of this dynamic. Many of my fellow recent college graduates, especially those in the tech or design fields, have been hired on as fully remote employees or have found success as freelance contractors. In turn, they find themselves remaining loyal to their companies and confident in their work. It means a lot when someone in charge looks at your skills and says, “I trust you to do this on your own without me having to watch over you.” Then, they let you work within the comfortable confines of your home office—perhaps with your dog curled up at your feet. On the flip side of the emerging gig-economy of 1099 and contract workers, it can lead to isolation, loneliness, and an increased likelihood that the freelancer will earn below per capita of the standard of living. That’s where entrepreneurial communities, like The NIIC, and programs like Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC), and Student Venture Lab Program, come in, to help entrepreneurs launch and grow full-time businesses.

2017 was a raw year that forced us to face a lot of issues—all of which affect us as a society both personally and professionally. 2018 will be a year of healing, cleaning up, and rewriting the rules. What issues do you think will face businesses in 2018?

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