BCG Henderson Institute

Among the most enduring narratives of the post-industrial age are the stories about the many ways technology-enabled automation has enriched corporations at the expense of their workers, resulting in stagnant wages, lost jobs and other unfortunate outcomes. ChatGPT is the latest looming villain.

But there’s also a flip side to the story that rarely gets discussed—the benefits that have accrued to workers due to technology.

A single mom with two small children is a shift supervisor at a manufacturing plant. Her shift starts early, before the school-day begins. Without pre-dawn day-care support, she leaves her children at home in bed while she goes into work to get her shift started. She then sneaks home to get her children dressed, fed and off to school and returns to work to finish her shift. The routine makes her feel like a terrible mom … and a terrible employee as well. But she feels she has no alternative. It’s heartbreaking.

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