Whether you leave business school to become a corporate manager, a professional high performer or an entrepreneur, you will spend much of your time on tasks unrelated to your expertise. Only the most senior executives now have dedicated personal assistants and so the more mundane work of email, scheduling meetings and booking travel eats up your time.

SwissCognitiveA new generation of employees is looking for ways to reclaim that time so they can spend it finding solutions to serious problems: the work that will get them credit and help them advance. This work also develops their expertise and helps them remain valuable when artificial intelligence finally becomes clever enough to do all the most predictable tasks.

Instead of just “bring your own device” — the tech fad of the past decade that allowed people to use their personal computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes — these employees are bringing their own assistant. They are paying for services to be completed by either a remote assistant who is a real person in a faraway office, or an AI-based assistant , or a hybrid version of the two.

Everyone gets an assistant

I like the idea of a person taking care of my to-do list, running through the tasks I hate about my job: scheduling meetings in packed days at conferences, keeping my contacts lists up to date and doing my expenses. There are the tasks I hate in my personal life, too: from calling companies to complain to remembering to send birthday cards early enough to reach family abroad.

But just as bring your own device caused a problem for corporate IT departments, which worried that they could not monitor smartphones they did not own for hackers, I am concerned that companies do not know that their employees are opening up their emails and calendars to remote workers in other organisations or inscrutable AI assistants.

The most basic form of AI assistant is the scheduler. Instead of sending several emails back and forth to find a time to meet, a user can copy in a pretend person, an artificial intelligence that reads your calendar and suggests times for the recipient. These include Julie Desk, Clara Labs and x.ai. […]