The robots are on their way – that is, if they haven’t already arrived. But this is good news for facility managers, C-suite executives, and white-collar workers.
AI and automation should not be viewed as ominous or dangerous. Technology will not take all of the jobs. However, these tools and resources will be disruptors. In fact, they are already helping companies with change, and it’s given them a competitive edge.
Depending on their application, automation and AI can be used to improve safety and work conditions, simplify repetitive tasks, and/or boost productivity levels across teams. These tools and technologies are intended to improve the workplace experience for everyone. But, we do acknowledge that change is hard. The implementation process won’t necessarily be smooth or convenient. Nevertheless, automation in the workplace is inevitable. The best thing companies can do is prepare for and embrace it.
A brief definition of workplace automation
Workplace automation is the process of creating systems that complete tasks with minimal or no direct involvement from people. Automating many tasks to improve or simplify an entire process or workflow may be referred to as orchestration.
The concept of automation in the workplace is not new. That’s good news for those who are still a bit apprehensive about the whole idea. Rather, it’s the technology being developed to handle mundane tasks or monitor wellness that is new.
These technologies are expected to transform the nature of work, and the workplace itself. AI has made great strides in recent years as machine-learning algorithms have become more sophisticated. Machines, software and sensors will be able to carry out more of the simplest tasks that people are currently expected to do. In rarer cases, they will be able to do some things that humans cannot. For example, machines can work 24/7. With proper maintenance, they can work for years at a time. Humans need breaks in order to operate at their best. But, with AI and technology doing more of the grunt work, employees can spend more of their productive hours doing things that make a real difference for their companies.
Will AI and automation make humans irrelevant?
AI and automation won’t make employees obsolete. Experts believe that only 5% of jobs are fully automatable. That means humans will always be vital to the workplace.
There will be changes though, and roles and duties will evolve for many people in the next decade or so. After all, these tools are intended to be disrupters. The demand for advanced technological skills, including programming, will spike. Skills such as critical and creative thinking will also become increasingly valuable.
Repetitive tasks, some customer service functions, basic data analysis, and other low-skill jobs may be transferred to machines and software.
This means that employees should consider upskilling now so that they are prepared to take on new roles when the time comes. Companies are encouraged to assess the skill gaps that currently or will exist, and help their employees gain the knowledge and skills they need in order to fill those gaps.
What does workplace automation look like?
There are many ways automation can be applied in a workplace. Below are a few different examples.
Specialization as opposed to generalization
Assembly lines are an old example of automation. This work process was implemented to reduce the skills and knowledge that each worker would need in order to create a finished product. Instead, each person masters one or two skills. The entire line works collaboratively to produce whatever item was being manufactured.
Predictive software, such as a writing program, will attempt to complete work or flag errors for the user. Advanced programs that work with a platform like Excel can help people increase data entry speeds and accuracy.
Streamlined client care
Customer support automation through AI systems could prove to be very helpful to clients and the companies that care for them. Some systems are so smart that they can match callers with the best customer service representative for their specific issue.
Agile software development
Companies that make and/or support software and apps can use automation to simplify some processes for their developers. Moreover, automation reduces human error so that developers are spending less time correcting mistakes and more time moving projects forward.
5 reasons to embrace workplace automation
These are the top 5 reasons to embrace workplace automation:
1. People want it
A lot of people are looking forward to letting technology do their most tedious tasks. According to a study completed by Hyperscience, 81% of people surveyed believed that automation could lead to more meaningful work. The majority of people who support automation say that better employee experiences are the most important part of technological advancement in the workplace.
2. It gives your company a competitive edge
Companies should consider implementing automation where it makes sense. Leading businesses are already experiencing the benefits of using purposeful software and tech. It can help improve physical work conditions, free up some much-needed time for busy workers, and allow companies to better serve clients.
Some companies are also using smart technologies to find the best candidates in far less time. There are software programs that have the ability to understand the client’s hiring specifications, and evaluate candidates on over 50 data points. Hiring managers are automatically shown the most qualified candidates to interview.
3. It can save you money
The most obvious benefit of workplace automation is the cost savings. Paying for a system or resource that can work unlimited hours, and complete the most boring or tedious tasks without complaining once is far less expensive than paying employees to work overtime or spend their valuable time on mundane activities.
4. It standardizes processes
Automation and AI help to create processes that ensure things are done the exact same way every time. This establishes key requirements and expectations for companies and clients. Standardization also minimizes variables, and as a result, reduces the potential for errors.
5. It can help create and maintain safer, healthier workplaces
Workflow design and workspace design will need to take into account that people and software/technology will be working more closely together. This partnership is an opportunity and a challenge, but the end results produce safer, healthier work environments.
For example, software like Office Control will allow companies to create and make desk bookings based on the setup of their unique workplace and what spaces are available. This solution makes it easy to control capacity limits and ensure workplaces don’t become overcrowded.
Similarly, sensors that work with software are becoming more prevalent. These little devices are being used to do things like automate temperature, lighting, and even give employees prompts if they detect they’ve been sitting too long or are slouching too much. Sensors use data and feedback to make decisions and encourage healthier practices. When it comes to prompts, it remains to be seen how willing employees are to listen to a robot’s recommendations.
Automating repetitive processes and jobs frees up time for employees and executives who can then focus on activities that are more valuable. Opportunities to automate common workplace processes are everywhere, which is why automation is becoming a must for some industries. Whether it’s providing the best customer service, streamlining the hiring process, or more efficiently managing data, automation is proving to be exceptionally valuable.