“The effects of technology are likely to lead to a redefinition of jobs and skill shifts rather than apocalyptic workforce reductions”

What impact has technology had on the real estate industry? Not enough, says Christine Li, Head of Research, Asia-Pacific at Knight Frank, but she predicts big changes ahead – as we discover in our exclusive interview about the future of work.

Christine Li​ Head of Research, Asia Pacific Knight Frank Singapore
Christine Li​ is Head of Research, Asia-Pacific, Knight Frank

We think Christine is someone worth listening to. With over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, and a background in journalism, her in-depth knowledge and research-based perspectives have made her a sought-after commentator and consultant for both local and international media outlets.

For Knight Frank, one of the world’s leading independent real estate consultancies, she plays a pivotal role in shaping long-term business strategies.

Read on to discover how Christine believes AI will change the jobs we do, the places we work, technology’s impact on the real estate sector… and just why she enjoyed watching the FIFA World Cup last year.

What jobs do you think AI might replace?

Given the continued progress of machine learning technologies and generative AI, it is increasingly likely that no jobs can be safe or unchanged by technology-driven disruption.

What are the major factors influencing the future of work?

Just as the invention of the steam engine and electrification revolutionised industries, technology-driven productivity gains can redefine economic eras and would be the single most important driver of change in the workforce.

How do you think the work office will change in the next ten years?

I believe most organisations will retain an office-first approach but with the integration of hybrid working styles at varying degrees along a remote-office spectrum. 

As such, the design of offices will increasingly be geared towards facilitating this aspect that emphasises the social nature of workplaces and the efficiency of these interactions. This means technology-infused workspaces that support hybrid schedules equipped with wellness features that maximise the well-being of its occupants.

What jobs will be gone by 2030? And what new jobs might be created?

We can definitely expect more jobs to be created as a result of AI, particularly technology-related ones. However, it is generally tricky to predict what jobs will disappear. The advent of email, for example, has not yet fully displaced the postal worker.

Conditions will also vary across countries and even organisations within the same sector. With lagged adoption and resistance, some jobs could turn out to be more resilient than anticipated. Thus, workforce displacements could turn out to be more nuanced than expected.

Jobs in modern economies have also grown more multi-faceted, requiring multiple skill sets. As such, the effects of technology are likely to lead to a redefinition of jobs and skill shifts rather than apocalyptic workforce reductions. 

However, we are probably missing the point if jobs are our only focus, as technology can solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, from navigating a pandemic to protecting the environment as well as alleviating the economic effects of ageing populations.

Which areas of society do you think will be more impacted by technology?

At its best, technology can democratise economic opportunities and improve livelihoods, such as easing access to finance in developing countries. At its worst, it creates a digital divide, amplifies generational gaps and widens economic disparities. 

As long as there is equitable access to learning and using technology, the negative aspects on society can be minimised.

What fields of work or industries do you think will accelerate because of technology?

Real estate, which has been a laggard sector in the adoption of technology, is ripe for disruption. How we use, transact and invest in real estate can be reshaped by digital technologies. The use of IoT technologies can make a building more responsive to its occupants. It can also be utilised to reduce the sector’s substantial carbon footprint. Its ubiquitous presence means any improvement in the sector will have wide-ranging implications.

What is a recent example of technology disrupting work that you found interesting?

As an ex-journalist, I have noticed how the profession has changed to cope with the dawn of the information age as well as the ability of generative AI to automate news briefs. Journalists now have to be more analytical and familiar with several media platforms and social media.

On the lighter side of things, with the World Cup held recently, I also found the introduction of VAR in football games to be quite analogous to the impact of technology on jobs. Its adoption did not replace any of the officials on the pitch but instead, led to the creation of an additional team of referees looking at monitors, the need for communications equipment specialists as well as dozens who will continue to mull its applications.

Want to read more opinions on the future of work?

Our thanks to Christine for taking the time to share her thoughts on the future of work. For more predictions, read on:

  • Michael Solomon, Author and Founder of 10xManagement. “There’s going to be a protracted battle between those who wish to work from home and those who think productivity is harmed by remote work.”
  • Eva Pankova, Head of People, ROI Hunter, “A four-day week would definitely disrupt the market, making those companies that adopt it much more competitive. Just imagine a three-day weekend!”
  • Deepesh Banerji, Chief Product Officer, Deputy. “The key to preparing for the future of work is to develop skills that are difficult to automate, such as creativity, critical thinking and emotional intelligence”
  • Benjamin Taylor, Organisational Consultant. “This morning at Heathrow Airport I saw a cleaning bot stuck on a rubber line on the floor. In what world is it better to have £30K robots than humans?”
  • Carmen Vicelich, serial entrepreneur. “Emerging markets will leapfrog some more mature markets through rapid digitisation”
  • Philip Ross, author, futurist and CEO of Ungroup and Cordless Group: “The office of 2033 will become a more social, healthier, more sentient, elastic, digital, personalised, shared and purposeful space”
  • Duena Blomstrom, author and CEO of PeopleNotTech. “Jobs of the future? Chief Psychological Safety Officers will be in, bureaucrats will be out.”
  • Fazilat Damani, Chief Experience Officer at Design for Good. “AI won’t completely replace jobs, but rather evolve them

If you have something to say about the future of work, please email us at [email protected].

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.