McKinsey predicts 50 per cent of tasks we do today can be performed using technologies available today. They continue to provide other facts that will raise concern. Six out of ten current occupations have more than 30 per cent of activities that can be automated. And yet there are very few occupations that can be completely automated.

The UK GDP could be around 10 per cent higher in 2030 as a result of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Consultancy UK. This will make AI the largest commercial opportunity for the British economy. AI could generate a further £232 billion for the British economy.

According to PWC, AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030. This is more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion is likely to come from increased productivity. $9.1 trillion is likely to come from consumption-side effects.

Numbers like this are significant. They will drive the behaviour of businesses, leaders, employees, entrepreneurs and policymakers. There will be winners and losers within every camp. The all-important question is which side do you want to be on? Your behaviour and preparation to adapt. The actions you take and your state of mind will determine your future.

The McKinsey report shows jobs will change and people need to adapt to keep their jobs. I will unravel this challenge for those working in different industry sectors. The sectors and jobs most likely to feel the greatest impact in the near term. How to prepare yourself and why sleep will give you a competitive edge.

 

How safe are your occupation and Industry?

AI impact on our society could be like the Industrial Revolution across Europe and America. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Robotics are enablers for AI. RPA offers enormous efficiency benefits. These can be realised in a short time frame and with limited resources. Implementing RPA generally starts with automating back office functions. Functions such as HR and finance administration within all industry sectors. Its full potential and impact will be seen with large scale deployments. Robots speed up the automation of manual and repetitive tasks.

The impact of automation will vary by job and industry sector. Whether you perform a blue- or white-collar role is irrelevant. The high salaried financial trading industry has already been hit hard. 75 per cent of all trades is now performed using AI-based trading systems. Jobs including physical, predictable activities are at risk of being automated.

 

Embrace the tide of change

The goal of automation is not only to achieve greater cost reductions. It must focus on using human capital in the best possible way.

“I have dreams and I have nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.” Jonas Salk

Your nightmares and your dreams are your own making. It is important to dream for they give you purpose. Jonas Salk discovered and developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. He chose to do medical research instead of becoming a practical physician. That must have been a tough decision. He had a dream, what is your dream?

There has never been a more important time than now to take control of your future.

The 2018 Las Vegas workers strike highlights three important lessons. The Culinary and Bartenders Union intended to protect their member’s job security. Their focus was the threat of automation.

The first lesson does not try and stop the tide of AI and robotics, instead embrace it. This lends itself to the 11th Century English legend of King Canute. He was a God-fearing king who wanted to show his courtiers he had no control over the elements. Canute set his throne by the sea and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet. The tide wet his feet! One thousand years ago Canute demonstrated even kings cannot stop the incoming tide. Protecting job security from the tide of automation is no different. The union, its members, they both need to adapt. Trying to stop the tide raises a question. Can they remain competitive within their changing Industry?

The union acknowledged “…the technology is coming… as jobs change workers should have the opportunity to train for those new jobs.” The second lesson. Employees need to engage and motivated to adapt. Employers also need to put in place employee engagement plans. These plans must include training that facilitates the desired employee behaviour. I discussed such plans in a recent blog.

The third lesson is the simplest yet hardest for many to manage. It is your career, your future, your livelihood, take responsibility for it.

Were the union, employees and employer prepared for the inevitable incoming tide?

Without adequate planning and preparation, all three sides will suffer. With the changes ushered in by automation places employees at the greatest risk. The union’s purpose is to serve its members. Employers have a responsibility to support their employees adapt. Employees must be accountable for their future. Did all three prepare in good time for the inevitable incoming tide? Whatever the answer, it is still the employee who needs to adapt. If you are standing in the way of an oncoming train, do you wait? Or do you move out of the path of danger? Of course, you move out of the path of danger.

 

How do you move out of the path of danger?

You identify within your role and market sector those crucial human skills that will separate you from robots. Focusing on improving these skills will give you a competitive advantage. Embrace and plan for automation. It provides businesses with the opportunity to do “business” better. Robots will remove mundane and repetitive tasks you currently perform. This gives you new opportunities if you prepare yourself for them.

The McKinsey report highlighted that a large share of jobs will not disappear. Those that predict such a future are treating the job as a single task that will be automated. Adopting technology is going to be harder in some sectors than others. It will proceed as quickly as employers and unions make it work with the employees and members they have.

 

Take responsibility for your own future

Give priority to preparing and acquiring the skills to deliver more value. Do this and you have every reason to be optimistic. Embrace technical progress as an opportunity, not a threat. Doing so you will become more marketable with greater job security.

Develop your creative, analytical and human skills. For those in sales, focus on improving how you present yourself and connect with others. Take the time and ask questions to better understand your audiences’ needs. Understanding their situation sharpens your ability to sell. This improves your negotiation and persuasion skills.

Automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people. Also, jobs applying expertise, and requiring social interactions. These remain areas where machines are unable to match human performance for now. Look for those companies offering professional skills development. Companies offering mid-career retraining and on-the-job training. Take back control of managing your own future. Search out opportunities that sharpen skills to be more productive working alongside machines.

Your success will be set by your level of preparation and personal skills. Luck and having the right connections will always remain important. Be prepared to leverage your skills and understand what is at stake. Find a coach who can help you plot your course of action. Coaching helps you think more like a human. Coaching sales growth helps you improve your productivity. Your future will be determined by your thoughts.

 

That sounds a lot easier than it is!

The robots are coming. They will take on tasks that are repetitive and predictable. Like the incoming tide and King Canute, mere mortals like us cannot change this. But we can adapt. This reality is frightening if you are;

  1. Over dependent on someone else other than yourself. You will be losing personal momentum and motivation. This makes it harder for you to adapt.
  2. The more overwhelmed you become the more you lose focus.
  3. You have become disconnected from the work that matters. The less engaged you are the less likely you will find and deliver or create great work.

Most of us at some time in our lives will connect with one or more of these points. My advice. Find a coach. Someone you trust and believe in. Employers and unions must be preparing and supporting their members and employees adapt. Confrontation will offer little benefit to the employee. Everyone needs to be reasonable. To communicate and work together to prepare and adapt for the future.

Coaching can fuel your courage to step out beyond the comfortable and familiar. It can help you learn from your experiences, make you more human to release your potential.

Robots will prevail. They will take the mundane, repeatable and predictable tasks out of your role. This is no more than basic economics. As robots and AI skills increase and their price decreases their impact increases. You cannot be more productive than a robot at a repetitive task. Automation does not always replace the simplest task. It is a compromise between complexity and cost. Even the high paid white collar financial traders have been affected by automation.

Your habits make it hard for you to change. Research ED says 45 per cent of our waking behaviour is habitual. Within my coaching sales growth training.

I provide guidance on how to manage and develop new habits that will better serve you to adapt. The guidance is not magic or beyond anyone’s reach. You need to:

  1. Be specific what outcome you want.
  2. Have a reason, a purpose for doing it.
  3. Find a cue that occurs every day, such as waking up at the same time each day.
  4. Make a commitment to yourself.
  5. Practice, practice, practice.

Having the wrong habits will make it hard for you to adapt. These habits could even be damaging your future and job security. Habits live within your unconscious mind. This allows your conscious mind to focus on doing more productive tasks. Your habits control you. It is in your interest to develop the right habits to be more competitive. With habits comes a plan.

Now we are ready to see why sleep will give you the competitive edge.

 

What is sleep?

If you have a Fitbit or some other tracker you will have seen your different sleep cycles. Many of us are unaware of what our brain is doing during these cycles. We will have heard of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) light sleep and the deeper Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). Good sleep is both quantity and quality. It is important you get the right proportions of SWS and REM to be in a peak state.

Being in a peak state is central to your success adapting to a more automated work environment. Sleep must be one of your priority tools to be successful in your chosen career.

The National Sleep foundation survey in 2018 showed that Americans are failing to prioritise sleep. 90 per cent of those that do sleep well say they feel very effective at getting things done each day. Compared to only 46 per cent with poor sleep health. The study shows only 10% of American adults prioritise their sleep over other activities.

Poor sleep impairs your concentration. Handling stress and listening, solving problems, decision making, and relating to others. These are all skills you need to sharpen to be successful working alongside robots.

Sleepiness also contributes to making errors. Being late to work, falling asleep at work, staying home from work, and getting injured.

Underslept people are more irritable, moody and irrational. Are you tired and have an important decision to make? Get a good night’s sleep, and sleep on it.

 

How will sleep give me a competitive edge?

You will cycle through the REM and SWS stages of sleep many times while you sleep. Each stage provides you with a distinct competitive advantage. As you fall asleep into your first sleep cycle you enter the editing process. This is when your brain decides which memories to keep and which to remove. The area of your brain responsible for language and consciousness remains active. You are editing recently acquired information. While you sleep it is being linked to your knowledge in long-term memory. Fail to sleep well and you will forget.

You would never say “I’ll eat on the problem”, you say “I’ll sleep on the problem”.

Our elders did not know how sleep helped us solve problems, but they knew it did. Some sleep experts say our REM sleep is when we are the most creative, intelligent, and insightful. It has been theorized that all the REM time is when the brain is testing its software. This is the time when we dream most vividly. It is preparing for you to come online. Known as telencephalization, it is another way of saying ‘opening the mind’. Getting this type of sleep also helps you process the information you receive. The amount of data we receive is increasing with automation. Your REM sleep is giving you a competitive edge. It is enabling you to adapt to a faster world working with more automation and data.

Our elders also knew when sick to have lots of sleep. Deep SWS sleep is a coma-like sleep and essential to our brain and physical health. This is when your brain starts its housekeeping. It is managing repairing your body ready for the next day. Matthew Walker, in his book, The New Science of Sleep and Dreams adds further reasons to get your beauty sleep. Summarised in a UK national newspaper article, he explains a remarkable sewage system. During deep sleep, the brain’s sanitisation system kicks in removing beta amyloids. These are toxic proteins that can only be removed during deep sleep. Research is uncovering a new truth. Allowing these toxins to build up can influence and increase your risk developing Alzheimer’s disease.

You will have longer periods of SWS deep sleep during the first three or so hours of sleep. This is because you need to be fit to fight that sabre tooth tiger wanting to eat you. Okay, no sabre tooth tigers anymore. Our world has moved on. Today robots are eating up our mundane repetitive, repeatable tasks.

We need good deep sleep to be in a peak state. We also need to be mentally in a peak state to adapt. Our need for different types of sleep needs to also adapt to our changing world. We still need to be fit. We also need to sharpen our ability to solve problems and be more creative. This is becoming important to our success in the modern world of automation. REM sleep is key to sharpening your human skills required to adapt. You get more of this sleep in the latter hours after your body has started its repair work.

Sleep is critical for keeping our physical and mental health in a peak state. The importance of getting enough exercise, keeping hydrated, eating well is important. Yet, the evidence is showing that getting a regular good night’s sleep should be at the top of our list of priorities. I would also include keeping hydrated because it supports your brain to remain in a peak state. Few of us realise that you will die from a lack of sleep far sooner than you will die from lack of food.

Our impending death from lack of sleep is unlikely. Yet, the loss of a critical deal or relationship due to lack of sleep is more likely to occur. It could mark the turning point towards the downturn of your career or business. This is because you have not given priority to have a good quantity and quality of sleep. Give it the priority it deserves. You will give yourself a competitive edge. Sleep helps you adapt as more automation and robots enter the workplace.

 

I fly…, I do shift work, I have a child, I…

No one said adapting your routine to increasing automation would be easy. I can guarantee three outcomes. Time will pass. Working alongside robots will increase. You will get older. It is tough having to get up at four in the morning to catch a flight. Shift work is stressful. I admire all single parents who juggle raising their child with performing a job. The list of challenges you will face is endless. Some will face greater challenges than others. The third lesson from the 2018 Las Vegas workers strike remains the most important. It is your career, your future, your livelihood, take responsibility for it.

 

Pulling it all together…

50 per cent of the current work activities is automatable using existing technologies. Whether you work selling these technologies. Or you work alongside them, automation will impact you. To a greater or lesser extent, you will notice the robots doing their work.

Give priority to preparing and acquiring the skills you need to deliver more value. Your success is set by how well prepared you are for working alongside robots. Take responsibility for your future. Dream and be clear what career you want. Get a coach. Prepare your plan and follow through getting it done. Break those bad habits, develop new ones. Give sleep the priority it deserves.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.