“Employees don’t care as much about the title and the money anymore: what they care about is meaningful work”

In each of our Future of Work interviews, we’re looking for people who have strong views about how the world will change. Mine Dedekoca is just such a person. Quite aside from founding a number of companies, she is among the ten founding members of Remote-First Institute, a not-for-profit organisation that helps companies embrace remote-first workplaces. And succeed.

Mine Dedekoca
Mine Dedekoca helps people and organizations get the most from remote working

It should be no surprise that Mine championed remote working long before the pandemic, and as we shall see below sees the past three years as a proof-of-concept for many companies. And employees. But the key to everything? Happiness.

What jobs do you think AI might replace?

AI will be eliminating any job that involves routine and repetitive tasks, as well as jobs that can be easily automated. So, in a way, it will eliminate everything that doesn’t need the value-add of a human being. Which I think is actually creating a space for people to do things that they can add value to. So, the good news is that we will be spending less time on things that have no significance and use that time for things that matter more to us and the world. 

These are some of the areas that I think are first in the line of elimination:

1. Data entry: Any job that requires a repetitive task for data entry or classification.

2. Accounting: Any routine tasks such as data entry and bookkeeping 

3. Customer Service: First level of customer service that can suggest automated answers to commonly faced questions. Let the human customer service reps be as creative as they want with the challenging ones that an AI can’t handle!

4. HR: Candidate screening and assessment to create more time for human interaction with the ones that get through the automated process. 

5. Logistics/delivery: Self-driving vehicles are becoming increasingly advanced and are likely to replace many jobs in the transportation industry, such as truck drivers, taxi drivers and delivery drivers.

6. Forecasting: Any job that involves forecasting (like demand management) will be replaced by AI for more accurate planning.  

I’d like to highlight that AI will create as many and even more job opportunities than it will eliminate. It is really important to see where your job can evolve with AI and to upskill yourself so that you stay competent in your field of work. 

What are the major factors influencing the future of work?

There are several factors that influence the future of work. I think the most important one is the advancement of technology. Since the invention of the World Wide Web (www) in 1986, the size of data has been exponentially increasing. Data that we produce got so big over the course of time and led to a situation where it had to be analyzed and translated into meaningful inventions. That is why we started seeing AI-dominated technology advancement over the last decade. 

Advancements in technology made it possible to work from anywhere and also gave the chance to easily collaborate with people all over the world. Globalisation has also helped this movement to be borderless. Both of these factors eliminated the need to be in close proximity to each other and created the roots of a flexible and global work environment. People don’t want to live and work in the same city that they were born in. They want to be mobile and see the world. So, that also created an urge for the employees to find more flexible options that allowed them to be mobile. I like to call this the liberation of work. 

One major factor is the change in the expectations of the employees. The employees don’t care as much about the title and the money anymore. What they care more about is meaningful work. They don’t want to be stuck in an office doing something that doesn’t mean anything to them. They want to create an impact on this world. 

Last but not least is the scarcity of resources. For that reason, we saw the emergence of the shared economy. The shared economy is also true when it comes to human resources. Employers want to have the flexibility to hire people when they need and pay only for the amount of time that they hire them for. On the employee side, they want to be stuck with a single job. They want to have the freedom to work on whatever they enjoy, whenever they want. This mutual need created the Gig economy and we will be seeing it grow even more over the next few years. 

Is there any science fiction story that, in your view, successfully predicts the future?

I enjoyed reading Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. I’m always on the positive side of technology, so this book definitely aligned with my view on AI. The book starts with a fictitious story of AI exceeding human intelligence and competence. All these years the evil of AI has always been embodied in a robot shape. But this book shows that it doesn’t need to come in the shape of a robot. How the data is managed and manipulated will be the problem. So, the real problem will occur if there will be a misalignment between the intended goals and those of AI.  

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

The office will change fundamentally over the next ten years. When I was working as a country ambassador for Upwork (it was Elance.com back then) back in 2012, data was showing that the change was already happening at a steady pace. However, the pandemic accelerated this change and let everyone get a demo of what it could feel like not to work at an office.

For some, it worked and for some, it didn’t work as much as they wanted. For the latter group, the problem wasn’t the remote work but it was actually the fact that their infrastructure and processes in place were not yet ready for this change. So, when we talk about change, it is not only about the WHERE we work but more importantly about HOW we work. 

The biggest change that we will see is the “flexibility”. All research shows that people want flexibility. They want to be flexible with the location and time they work. They also want to be flexible with how they want to do their job. So, that will yield less or even no “micromanagement” on the leadership side. 

We will see that traditional offices will evolve to be more flexible, providing employees with flexible options to work and also giving them an opportunity to socialize with their colleagues. People want to spend in-person time socialising, not for being in the same room to attend the Zoom call. 

We will also be seeing the rise of health and wellness programs at work. Companies started to understand that they need to invest in the well-being of their employees in order to have sustainable success. Happy employees = improved productivity = sustainable growth. 

Now we started hearing about companies calling their employees back to the office. But this is not going to change what has already started. These companies are just being ignorant to think that their employees will accept this and stay with them. Bluntly speaking, they will need to settle with the talent that didn’t get hired by the more preferred companies that offer flexibility. 

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

I’m amazed by the biotechnology startups. For example, there is one company named PlasticMove that produces plastic raw materials from bread and food waste. There’s another company named AlgBio that produces biofuels and chemical products from microalgae obtained by treating wastewater and flue gas in order to prevent the problems which cause pollution in the environment.

I always believe in the positive side of technology. We have a responsibility to make our world a better place. I can’t think of a better way to leverage technology to create an impact on the sustainability of our world. 

I also believe that technology needs to serve us to live a more efficient life. In that sense, I love to use smart technology. Any IoT tool is a big life and time saver. At home, my biggest saver is my robot vacuum cleaner. I can schedule it whenever and however, I want it to clean the house. Mapping technology not only allows me to control the location but also gives visibility to the progress. So, when I’m out with my friends I can ask the robot vacuum to clean the whole house and save my time and energy to be spent on more valuable things. 

Want to read more opinions on the future of work?

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

  • Christine Li, Head of Research, Asia-Pacific, Knight Frank. “The effects of technology are likely to lead to a redefinition of jobs and skill shifts rather than apocalyptic workforce reductions”
  • 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.