What Robo-Cars Will Mean for the Workplace – and Beyond

I just bought a new car and think it will be that last one that I actually drive. That is, the next one will drive itself.

The progress of getting self-driving cars on the road is accelerating. Want proof? The U.S. Congress, unable to agree upon anything these days, has reached bipartisan consensus on federal legislation to regulate self-driving cars. That tells me there is serious interest by all parties involved to make this happen ASAP. 

The effects this will have on the workplace will be profound. As I wrote about last March, many employees who drive for a living (about 4.5 million) will lose their jobs. But those jobs will be replaced by others that haven’t even been invented yet, as has always happened when new technologies are introduced.

The knock-on effects from this will reach broad swaths of society, eventually affecting many other employees, businesses and the economy in fascinating ways, according to an article in the May 29 edition of Barron’s magazine. Some likely changes that are coming:

• It won’t be just drivers who lose jobs, but car wash workers and parking attendants will be affected.

• The reduced need for parking spaces will free up large amounts of prime downtown real estate.

• Speeding and parking tickets will disappear, so cities will have to make up that revenue in other ways.

• Waiting lists for organ donors will grow longer as fatal car accidents become rarer.

• Homes will get more living space as the need for two-car garages dissipates.

• Companies will be able to locate in more rural areas as the cost to commute drops and the travel is considered leisure time by employees.

These foundational shifts in our economy and society will provide threats and opportunities for employers, so it’s important for managers to be thinking about them now.

Frank Kenna III
July 12, 2017

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