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Integration of work and life

Nov 28,2019
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LIM MI-JIN
The author is the head of the Folin Team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Just as anyone becomes wiser looking back in the past, today’s concerns have a different weight if you imagine the future. That’s what I was thinking as I prepared for a conference on how people deal with work. I met Nam Se-dong — CEO of artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Voyager X — who would be a speaker.

Voyager X provides various services using AI technology. It automatically inserts subtitles on videos using voice recognition or reads handwriting and turns it into a computer font. Considerable parts of video editing and font design can be replaced with technology. I asked Nam whether AI was taking away jobs from people.

He said, “What will people in the future say looking at the people in the early 2000s? They would say, ‘People used to work five days a week, from morning till evening.’ I believe technology will reduce people’s work, especially simple labor that people don’t want to do.”

Answers to the same question change depending on the perspective. If someone asks you which is more important, work or family life, what would you say? In 2011 — only eight years ago — 54.5 percent of the respondents said that work was more important.

How about now? According to the 2019 social survey published by the national statistical bureau on Nov. 25, 44.2 percent said they value work and family about the same, higher than 42.1 percent who said work was more important. It is the first time that “work comes first” was ranked second since the survey started. Our attitude toward work is drastically changing.

Let’s imagine the future. What would you say if you are asked the same question in 10 years’ time? I don’t think the survey will even ask this question 10 years from now. Many people ask how you can separate work and life outside work. Most of all, working conditions are changing rapidly. Start-ups have flexible work hours, and more people work from home or remotely. There will be days when the concept of going to work no longer exists, and the spaces for work and life are not distinguished.

More and more people want to discuss work and life integration rather than work and life balance that separates work and life outside work, as work has to be a part of life. Our work is constantly changing. It is easier to imagine the direction of the change than you think. If you read the direction of change, you can change faster than others and work more sustainability. That’s why we need more open discussions on work.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 27, Page 32