The Work-Life Balance of Tomorrow

Intelligent machines will continue to disrupt the way we live and work. The only question is: How can we make the most of it?

The United States may be short more than 30,000 surgeons in fewer than 10 years.1 Enter surgical robots, whose precise movements enable doctors to perform more surgeries in less time, creating more free time for them and shorter wait lists for patients. Such is the promise of smart technology: Do more with less, in work and life.

Work. A recent survey showed that 64% of people think technology will improve their job prospects.2 Part of that optimism comes from flexibility, as how much we enjoy work is partially based on how well technology works for us.

While past revolutions in the way we work have mostly disrupted manufacturing and the process of building products, intelligent machines are actually reshaping how we service existing products. Employees in some fields may soon find themselves sharing parts of their jobs with algorithms that automate their most repetitive tasks, freeing up time for them to be more productive and creative. “While there are areas where robots are taking over human jobs, the purpose is to make humans more valuable,” says Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation at the World Economic Forum. “We need to put people at the center of the system and not look at them as cogs in the machine.”

Life. As we increase our value at work, we become more efficient off the clock as well. “The productivity of leisure time has greatly increased,” Davis says. “Immersive games, online media, social networks—all these come at a very low cost.” That might help explain why entertainment spending has lagged since the 2008 recession, even as overall spending is up.

Finding your balance. “We’re seeing a big trend toward work-life integration,” Davis adds. “This flexibility can be hugely positive if you have control and are able to prioritize .


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