Automation in the workplace seems to be an impending threat to job positions and employment. Statistics compiled by Fortunly, for instance, indicate that the share of jobs at risk of automation could be about 30% by 2030. By 2035, that amount may rise to 30% before eventually stabilising. There is no doubt that automation plays a significantly important role in the future of work and workplace.
This isn’t the first time in human history that innovation and automation have disrupted the job market. But unlike technological revolutions of the past, which displaced many manual laborers, the advent of Intelligent Automation (IA) and increased digitisation stands to transform the workplace faster than ever before.
Such prospects seem dire, but the reality is that the changes stemming from automation will likely be gradual, giving workers plenty of time to adapt. What’s more, automation is going to bring with it new opportunities and heretofore unheard-of levels of efficiency. As many old jobs fall to the wayside, they will be replaced by new ones, and work across the board will receive a well-deserved productivity makeover.
Staying at the crest of this future wave while minimising negative impacts on job prospects will require a keen understanding of how automation is poised to change the way we work. Here’s what you should know about the potential outcomes of the automated digital workplace and how your business can benefit.
Automation in the Workplace
IA technology has already left its mark on office spaces around the world, in the form of workflow and process automation. This type of automation focuses on the small, repetitive tasks that exist across multiple industries. These repetitive, daily tasks may vary from collecting data to shooting out emails to clients. When it comes to this narrow set of actions, automation excels far greater than any human could. As potent as IA and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are, though, they aren’t putting everyone out of work. On the contrary, intelligent automation is empowering the workplace.
The size of the worldwide business process automation market has grown from $5.1 billion in 2016 to an estimated $12.7 billion in 2021, evidence that companies are willing to spend on this technology to enhance their bottom lines. What’s more, automation is a boon to workers within many organisations, as it improves their productivity and frees them from the tedium that distracts them from their core responsibilities.
Consider the bevy of automation tools used by a marketing department on the market. They aren’t designed to replace entire teams, rather, these platforms empower those marketing teams to concentrate on higher-order problems by relieving the burden of lead management, email nurturing, and other types of tedious “busywork.” Similarly, AI-powered scheduling tools eliminate the need for workplace teams to perform the tiresome “email dance” when trying to schedule meetings. Instead, they’re able to handle the process automatically.
There are numerous other examples of automation aiding workers in becoming more productive. This augmentation of human ability is part of a broader digital transformation strategy powered by intelligent automation. Through balancing AI, Machine Learning (ML), and intelligent process automation, businesses can improve their processes and workflows while boosting efficiency. This is the future of automation in the workplace, but how might you start adopting these technologies responsibly while simultaneously reaping the benefits of automation for your own business?
How to Make Automation Work for Everyone?
The pace at which automation in the workplace continues to advance may seem overwhelming, but the transition to automated processes doesn’t have to be a messy one.
Businesses can mitigate job losses to automation. They can do this through the planned deployment of intelligent automation and AI technologies and a careful balance of the potential economic benefits with social costs. Additionally, your business can maximise its own automation benefits by adhering to sustainable transition guidelines.
1. Identify Manual Processes and Evaluate Automation Needs
Just because something can be automated, doesn’t mean it should be automated. After identifying manual processes as candidates for automation, you should then weigh the pros and cons of automating said processes. What, for instance, is the ultimate goal served by automating? What impacts will it have on your workers? These and other impact-driven questions will help you determine if automation is worth the effort.
2. Communicate Changes to Your Team in Advance
The perceived negative ramifications of automation are most pronounced when changes come too quickly and workers have little time to adapt. Though in some industries the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the pace of adoption, the general rule should be to alert your employees of upcoming changes well in advance so that they can plan for transition.
3. Support Employees Through the Transition Process
When automation is introduced to help workers perform their jobs more effectively, it falls to business leaders to ensure they receive the training necessary to hit the ground running. This will ensure a smooth transition to automated workflows. Additionally, training optimises the benefits of the technology to workers along with the profitability of your company.
In cases where automation may displace workers, businesses play a pivotal role in helping them access training and educational resources that will allow them to retrain for the new roles that technological advancement will help create.
Automation in the workplace may seem foreboding, but technology has a greater potential to make our jobs easier than to take them away entirely. By eliminating the need to manually perform repetitive tasks, many teams will have more time to concentrate on their core responsibilities and approach them with renewed creativity.
Remember to carefully consider the human element as you plan your own transition to automated processes, and you will be able to implement future technologies, like IoT and Artificial Intelligence in a manner that respects your workforce while boosting your bottom line.