Showing all posts tagged: work

Telstra redundancies, AI robots come in, the future is now

24 May 2024

Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, announced this week it was making about three thousand employees, or ten percent, of its workforce redundant. About three hundred people were sent home straightaway — hopefully with some sort of pay-out — while the remainder will depart between now and the end of the year.

This is terrible news for those who will now be looking for new work, at a time when the seasonally adjusted Australian unemployment rate has also been rising. Telstra cites the need to cut costs, and claims the mass layoffs will produce savings to them of three-hundred-and-fifty-million dollars.

The thing is, when cuts are made to the workforce — allegedly in the name of saving money — the work once carried out by the three-thousand people who have been let go, does not necessarily evaporate. Accordingly, in the past companies laying off large numbers of staff have out-sourced some of this work to lower-cost providers.

Or, have said advances in technology will make up for the shortfall in staff. In this instance however, advances in technology includes the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered software:

“AI and cloud computing and robots, you know they can be far more efficient and effective in the network,” telecommunications consultant Paul Budde said. “So therefore, what you start seeing is absolutely replacing humans [with] this new technology … that is seriously happening.”

Telstra’s move has stoked fears of a wider adoption of AI “solutions”, for companies looking to reduce their headcount. It could be argued the Telstra situation is a one-off. The telco’s customer base has been declining for decades as people make use of internet based call services, and move away from landline phones. Other Australian companies, therefore, especially large enterprises, are likely not quite facing the same challenges as Telstra.

But does that mean they’re not looking at the cost-cutting potential of incorporating more AI technologies into their operations? That, unfortunately, remains to be seen.


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Workers using cafes as offices may reduce their profitability

3 April 2024

Malcolm Knox, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald:

Then there are rents, insurance, equipment and other fixed costs. In a Sydney suburb near me, a new cafe is paying $5000 a week in rent. At $1000 per 7am-to-1pm shift, they need to be selling 300 coffees a day to make it worth their while. That’s nearly one a minute. They don’t often make money on food, which requires more infrastructure such as cooking, storing, plates and so on. It’s all down to their coffee price.

Cafes are a great stand-by for the WFH crowd, an office away from the home office. They’re somewhere to work, be in the company of others, while enjoying a coffee. Or two. Or three. In fact, the more the merrier, so far as the cafe is concerned.

But as much as I love the idea of working in a cafe, I do so infrequently. And then in short bursts — an hour tops — and I will buy at least one coffee and a cake — valued at maybe a little more than ten dollars — to make my stay at least partially worthwhile for the cafe. But even then, I’m short-changing the owners, as they’re hoping to earn closer to forty dollars an hour on the table I occupy.

Running a cafe you see, is an expensive undertaking, and WFH workers who buy a single cup of coffee, and expect to have the same table to themselves all day, are doing the cafe a distinct disservice. I’m fortunate to have a couple of hot-desk options if I don’t want to work at home, virtually negating the need to use a cafe, something I’m sure owners are grateful for. Instead, I’ll come by for a take-out coffee, and be on my way.


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Doing anything for a living even dishwashing by Dugald Jellie

19 September 2022

Writers in Australia are often forced to work several jobs to support their craft, something Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella Prize, could tell you. Some of the roles aspiring creatives take on — and washing dishes may, or may not, be among them — doubtless would not be their first choice, but are usually a vital means to an end nonetheless.

Then again, force of circumstance may see anyone end up taking on work they are overqualified for, but need regardless. Melbourne based fifty-something Dugald Jellie writes about taking on dish washing duties at a busy cafe, after finding himself in need of work, any work:

How I got here might be a cautionary tale. The choices we make. A few wrong turns, a misstep, some bad timing, and now I work between four sinks — in the kitchen, front-of-house — stacking plates, hands wet, at the bottom of the food chain, a tea towel slung over my shoulder.

Recommended reading for a Monday morning.