Technological innovation has become the driving force behind mass production in the manufacturing industry, making assembly-line work almost obsolete in the process. With corporate policy increasingly focused on productivity, many administrative professionals are beginning to wonder if they’re next in line for a pink slip. Will admin jobs be superseded by gadgetry, or will businesses continue to incorporate administrative assistants?
Back in the early part of the new century, production lines at factories were still stocked with people—real people—who assembled circuit boards, toys, computers, and many other products by hand. It wasn’t long, however, before assembly robots started to replace average factory workers en masse. From manufacturers’ points of view, the move toward robotics was a logical one: robots save time and money by constructing items more quickly than humans. The decreasing costs of new technology turned the decision into a no-brainer.
Naturally, former workers were not so pleased with the effect of industrial mechanization. In the present day, increasingly complex and useful technology has filtered into offices all over the country. Tablets, advanced computers, electronic organizers, and smartphones are all quite commonplace now. The resulting shift from conversation to email, text, and shared applications has led to widespread speculation of an imminent technological takeover. After all, why bother filling admin jobs when iPhone calendar apps are so simple to navigate?
Perhaps in the future, offices will be populated with robots rather than people. Recent advances in humanoid robotics have attracted considerable media attention and spawned AI-style visions of a brave new world filled with helpful—and eerily realistic—androids. In August 2013, Japan sent a 13-inch-high android called Kirobo to the International Space Station, where it uttered the first robotic words ever spoken in space. Kirobo’s space visit is part of a study into the benefits of non-human astronaut companions. With androids now being sent into space, some say it won’t be long before they start filling admin job roles and filing paperwork at the office.
Still, it’s important to remember that human beings are biological entities and require human contact to remain functional. Human administrative assistants are considerate, communicative, pleasant, and helpful. New technology—in any form—is cold, logical, preprogrammed, and often frustrating to people. Incidentally, even the most advanced androids have a habit of falling over unless they’re placed on perfectly level surfaces. So at the present time, your admin job is safe: androids can’t climb stairs. Even if they could, studies have shown that most people feel uncomfortable in the presence of humanoid robots, describing the experience as “eerie.”
If you’re worried that your admin job pays more per week than the one-time cost of an iPad purchase—don’t panic. It’s also worth bearing in mind that with the decline in unskilled manufacturing jobs came a surge in skilled machine operator jobs. In effect, robots did not replace humans: they simply forced them to learn a new job role before redistributing them. So, even if advanced technology does become the order of the day, it is likely that admin jobs will simply evolve rather than disappear.
In the end, until the human species is entirely replaced by a legion of self-replicating androids, humble human beings will always have jobs to do. Their responsibilities may change, but then again, that’s progress. Perhaps the easiest way to tackle technological development is to keep an open mind, never stop learning, and be ready to modify your admin job role as needed.
Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for Beyond.com. Nancy has 10 years’ experience in the online job search business with Beyond. Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites. Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on https://twitter.com/BeyondJobs.
(Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net)