Artificial Intelligence

The Future of Work with AI Disruption at its Core – Catherine O’Doherty, Associate Partner at Sia Partners

By Business & Finance
08 February 2024

The impact of artificial intellifence on the future of work is multifaceted, with contentious discourse surrounding the new technology. As the debate continues, one thing is for certain: Preparedness is essential.

By Catherine O’Doherty, Associate Partner at Sia Partners

The IMF’s recent report outlining the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the global economy contributes to the contentious discourse surrounding emerging technologies, and the potential threat they pose to the global labour market. The post-pandemic era has, in many ways, transformed ways of working. Now, AI is the next frontier. The IMF report touches on the future of work with AI disruption at its core – it outlines how jobs as we know them will change, and stipulates how organisations must adapt to remain relevant and competitive. It is increasingly clear that preparedness and responsiveness are essential in order to harness the benefits of new technologies, as their integration into the evolving workforce becomes progressively certain.

Disruption to jobs

Historically, we have seen how automation and information technology can transform the performance of repetitive or routine tasks, but AI is distinct in that it has the potential to influence highly skilled jobs among a range of sectors. Those working in higher wage jobs, who may have previously been protected from automation threats, will be impacted by AI. Generative AI will mean that knowledge workers, writers and creatives will need to adapt, for example. New technologies create potential for enhanced productivity and efficiency, but they can also potentially lower labour demands. To name a few practical disruptions, generative AI will be used to create content, streamline operations, improve customer service interactions, and analyse legal documents. The all-encompassing nature of AI means that there will be a shift in the kinds of skills we value in the labour market, and a major change in the future of work. 

Those working in higher wage jobs, who may have previously been protected from automation threats, will be impacted by AI.

However, it is not all bad news. It is expected that in the future, we will have more jobs than we do today due to demographic changes, consumption trends and growth. The WEF’s Future of Jobs Report states that there will be a net positive of jobs as a result of AI displacement, but the importance of assisting this change cannot be overstated. To mitigate the level of negative consequences that result from AI adoption, appropriate action must be taken by governments and companies to accommodate employee adaptation across the entire firm.

It is also important to remember that the rise of AI will emphasise the importance of soft skills. Ethical concerns surrounding its use may lead to the emergence of roles that require human skills and judgement. Emerging technologies will likely take control of routine tasks, however, it cannot replace uniquely human skills. AI cannot develop relationships, work autonomously or compete with human creativity. Replacing certain tasks with technology may create opportunities for workers to allocate time to more complex or creative roles.

Future Proofing Capability

With skill needs rapidly changing, organisations need to think ahead and invest in capability to secure their future. Businesses must embrace a mindset of continuous learning and build resilience within their workforce. This means constantly investing in their workforce, upskilling and reskilling workers, and deploying them in the management and use of AI. Governments also have an important role to play in ongoing learning and skill development. By collaborating with businesses, they can provide accessible and affordable training programs to equip workers with the necessary skills to work alongside emerging technologies and thrive in the changing job market. 

Career paths and talent pipelines will also need to be redefined. The interesting and unifying thing about AI is that we are all on this very steep learning curve as new technologies quickly emerge. In a sense, we are all in this together.  Businesses should consider how they can leverage their existing workforce through prioritising retraining workers in declining skill based roles, and moving them into areas that are in higher demand. In the current market, this is likely to ease transition, as existing human capital is being leveraged. Equally, employees will feel valued, as they are being invested in.

Ethical Considerations

As noted earlier, ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI may also lead to the rise of roles which demand human discernment. Employing technology alongside human skills will enhance certain roles and incorporating employees into such work practices can ensure that they remain at the cutting edge of innovation within the company.

Regulation, such as the AI Directive, will be important in driving ethical use of AI, in order to alleviate potential  biases, errors and exclusions.

Regulation, such as the AI Directive, will be important in driving ethical use of AI, in order to alleviate potential  biases, errors and exclusions. As AI will disproportionately affect lower wage workers, a strong focus will be required at both the policy and organisational level, with regards to underrepresented groups, to ensure that equality gaps are not further widened. Skill transitions paths need to be clearly defined to protect and further inclusion.


We are facing a period of significant change globally with the onset of artificial intelligence. A mixture of enthusiasm and uncertainty surrounds discourse on the future of work and the impact of technology, but we are facing an exceptional opportunity to enhance our innovation and output if handled correctly. It is imperative that organisations embrace new operating models, ways of working and technologies to remain competitive and relevant to their customers. Leaders who are alert to the dynamics of this change will drive their business through major disruption.

About the author: Catherine has 17 years Consulting experience, working across FS, Retail and Tech to solve complex business problems and deliver large change programmes. With expertise in Organisational Change Management, Digital Transformation, Agile Mobilisation, Culture Change, OD and Op Model Design, Catherine has a deep understanding of what it takes to mobilise teams and organisations to achieve benefits and strategic goals. Catherine works collaboratively with her clients, harnessing the strengths of their culture, values and people to create an environment which can quickly respond to constant change. Through deeply understanding change, Catherine creates the structures that enable success.

Read More: 

Thought Leadership: Cybersecurity — are you sure you’re adequately protected?

Thought Leadership: Making education fun — A school of thought

We’re Asking You To Sweat: An Interview with Jason Van Der Merwe, Europe Engineering Lead at Strava

Leveraging Technology for the Good of All: An Interview with Nikki Lasley, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amplitude

Finding Growth in a Fractured World

Youth Unemployment and China’s Economic Future

An Economic Model for the AI Age