Striking a Balance Between Productivity and Well-being in the AI Era

Rebecca Tyrstrup, Business Area IT, raises the question of prioritizing in the AI evolution.

The AI evolution sets the stage for a complex debate within tech companies: Whether to prioritize productivity or well-being. The question is raised in this opinion piece by Hesam Kangarlou, Business Area Technology, Academic Work, and Rebecca Tyrstrup, Business Area IT, Academic Work.

This is an opinion piece. The views and analyses are the writer’s own.

In response to the findings from the McKinsey Global Institute’s report on July 26, 2023, a pivotal question has arisen in the ever-evolving landscape of AI within the tech sector. The report predicts that by 2030 up to 30% of the hours currently worked by people could be automated by generative AI.

This sets the stage for a complex debate within tech companies, whether to prioritize the maximization of productivity for heightened revenue, or to channel efforts into enhancing working conditions and the well-being of employees.

It’s a question that pits profit-driven decision-making against the aspiration to nurture a more appealing and sustainable workplace.

What AI can do

We have entered an era where it’s no longer a bold statement to assume that the right use of AI can free up time for many different engineering roles. Tech companies have realized that AI can foster rapid innovation and increase competitiveness.

For instance, AI can now create code, enabling developers to write code at an accelerated pace. Developers can then devote more time to focus on the abstract and strategic aspects of their work such as what to build, rather than how code should be written. By freeing developers from some of the labor of manual coding, by having AI handle repetitive tasks, developers are empowered to engage in more high-level thinking, focusing on the architectural and conceptual facets of their projects.

In the construction engineering sector, an engineer can utilize AI-based systems for building information and use machine learning to optimize project planning. For example, they can employ an advanced tool that takes factors such as weather conditions, available resources, and past construction projects into account.

By analyzing this data, the system can generate an optimal construction plan that minimizes risk and increases efficiency. The mentioned examples for developers and engineers showcase great potential to render tech companies more successful while increasing revenue and returns for stakeholders.

Navigating the era of AI

Nevertheless, the pursuit of creating a more attractive workplace is a crucial consideration for tech companies. By investing in the well-being of their employees, tech companies are able to favorably attract and retain top talents. Factors such as flexible working hours, ongoing upskilling opportunities, and a balanced work-life dynamic are increasingly important factors for tech talents.

Some companies also continue to experiment with different models of working, such as a six-hour workday. Therefore an inevitable question arises; could AI help facilitate the transition to a six-hour workday? Whatever the future holds, we can surely agree that establishing a positive work environment contributes to increased motivation and creativity among engineers, increasing the odds of long-term success and innovation at the company.

Successfully navigating the era of AI requires a strategy that carefully weighs utility against well-being. Tech companies should consider integrating AI into their workplace to boost productivity while simultaneously investing in improving working conditions for their engineers. By fostering a corporate culture that promotes both innovation and employee well-being, companies can increase revenue, while retaining the people they need to succeed.

The question to ask yourself 

In the ever-evolving landscape of technological innovation and work culture, it is imperative for tech companies to seek a balance between profit-driven goals and the creation of a thriving workplace.

Recognizing and successfully managing this equilibrium will not only help a company to survive and grow but will also shape the future perception of its corporate responsibility and sustainability.

In the face of the AI revolution, how are tech companies like yours navigating the delicate terrain of optimizing productivity through advanced technologies while prioritizing the health and happiness of your workforce?

Hesam Kangarlou, Business Area Technology, Academic Work
Rebecca Tyrstrup, Business Area IT, Academic Work


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