World of Work

Are we wasting our saved time?

by Alex Kinmont

Technology is streamlining our daily routines.

We can order dinner online, saving us cooking time. We can work remotely, saving us travel time. We can shop online, saving us searching time. We let Google Maps re-route us around traffic before we see the first brake light and targeted ads tell us what to buy before we even know we want it.

The rise in technology has brought with it a rapid increase in the pace at which we live our lives.

If technology is making things run faster, then we’re saving time. So what exactly are we using that saved time for?


Are we saving time just to waste time?

South Africans spend an average of 8.5 hours online every day, according to a 2019 study. That’s an hour and a half more than the global average.

The more attention we give online, the more profitable the online world becomes. An advert seen is money made, so the goal for companies and advertisers alike is to keep us online for as long as possible.

Our online attention has become transactional.

Developers don’t just hope that we will spend time online. Smartphones and social media are specifically designed to keep us hooked for as long as possible. Of those 8.5 hours online, South Africans spend almost three hours on social media (Whatsapp, Facebook and Youtube proving most popular).

Are we really to blame?

Steve Jobs never let his own children use the iPad which he first released in 2010. This was our warning sign.

Feedback is a major ingredient of online addiction and it’s biologically enforced, says author Adam Alter (Irresistible). Feedback is the flash of the red heart icon when you like a photo on Instagram. It’s also the bright notification which pops up for the person on the other end. It’s the swooping sound when you refresh your Facebook feed and the click of your keyboard when your phone’s not on silent.


Are we saving time just to do too much?

The digital revolution and its onslaught of overstimulation is rendering us less and less capable of concentrating on a single thing at a time. The average attention span in a human has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since the turn of the century. That’s less than a goldfish.

Have you ever felt the urge to punch your computer when it freezes?

This is where we see how impatient tech has made us. We are already so accustomed to technology and the swift lifestyle which comes with it that when it lags we tend to curse at it.

As tech grows, so do our expectations.

Whereas our ability to multitask has improved thanks to tech giving us the means to do more than one thing at a time, it comes with a cost to our ability to do just one task effectively.


So what does this quickening mean for us professionally?

The World Health Organisation has recently announced that it will be adding ‘Burnout’ to its International Classification of Diseases. This will make burnout a globally-recognised medical condition from the year 2020. Burnout is defined by the WHO as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

In trying to keep up with new technologies, we may be overdoing it.  In constantly being connected, we never really get a break from the office anymore. We can access emails and our workload all from home, meaning we are never really completely free from our office.

On top of that, when do get a small break from our working hours, we’re spending it mindlessly on social media and the internet.

Are we ever really able to rest?

4IR can both worsen and alleviate our energy. It allows us to work continuously, yet it also allows us work faster and then rest.

So how do we go forward?

The answer therefore lies with people and their intentions. When advances in tech quicken our schedule, we must not forget that resting offline in our saved time is not wasting it.

Managers need to evaluate productivity in terms of quality of work done, and not time spent working. Employees need to recognise that time spent online is not as restful as time spent offline.

We need to disconnect daily – from our work, and from the internet.

Machines are going to take over tedious and time-consuming jobs, not so that we can fill our time with working more, but so that we can free up our time for more creative pursuits. The fourth industrial revolution will bring with it more options for spending our time.

What are you going to do with it?

To request more information on our digital skills course, click here.

Should we look at the 4th Industrial Revolution with excitement or fear?

Should we look at the 4th Industrial Revolution with excitement or fear?

by Stefan Lauber

Should we look at the 4th Industrial Revolution with excitement or fear? There is widespread agreement that it will lead to largescale job losses, particularly if the work is repetitive and low skilled.

A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) anticipates that 75 million jobs will be destroyed but it also forecast than another 133 million new jobs will be created with a net gain of 58 millions.

Jack Ma, from Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant, predicts that humans will do whatever machines can’t do. But instead of pitting machines against people, he sees that machines will become human partners that will open new opportunities for humanity. 

Foretelling the future is nearly impossible. But we do not need to be helpless bystanders. We can imagine possible future scenarios and then purposefully work towards creating for ourselves the scenario that we prefer most.

Even though the future is uncertain, we can confidently anticipate that:

  • Technology will change entire industries
  • As organizational configurations will change, people will have to be able to transition into new roles
  • Traditional employment relationships will be replaced with short term engagement. A large number of people will be self-employed.  
  • People will need continuously new skills. Lifelong learning will not be an option but a fact of life.
  • Companies will have to get more and more involved in the development of these skills because schools won’t be able to teach the skills that we do not even know of today
  • As other industries will change, so will education. Traditional modes of training delivery will be complemented with new ones.

A key factor for people to prepare themselves for the future, will be that they position themselves proactively. We should, as individuals or organisations:

  1. Take stock of our strengths and skills
  2. Create a vision of where we want to be and how we see ourselves making a contribution
  3. Identify the gaps between where we are today and where we want to be in future
  4. Develop a broad action for the next 5 years
  5. Define a detailed action plan for the next year
  6. Regularly revise our progress and adjust our course of action accordingly

Critical area to consider for us to transition will be that we have the necessary skills. What skills will be in demand?

  • IT skills such Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Data Science and Analytics, User Experience Design, Internet of Things and Augmented Reality
  • Problem solving skills, logical thinking and mathematical skills are required
  • Entrepreneurial skills because a lot of people will be self-employed. Managerial skills will remain important.
  • Caring skills such as nursing, teaching or counselling. Proportional to the increased role for technology the desire for the warmth of the human touch will raise
  • Empathy, soft human and creative skills will be need more than ever to help improve human interaction and innovation.

iFundi is well positioned to prepare you for the future. We offer in-depth training in key digital skills but also close to 100 soft, entrepreneurial and management skills.

To request more information on our digital skills course, click here.