Source: Business Insider
The fear of new technologies eliminating — or at least disrupting — existing and emerging jobs is hardly new. The transition from hand-production methods to machines during the Industrial Revolution, for instance, spurred fears of mass unemployment. But instead of destroying jobs, may new jobs were created and the workforce experienced a massive spike in productivity and efficiencies.
Today, we’re entering the next tipping point of workplace transformation — automation.
Backed by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation appears poised to have a transformative impact on every industry and organization. Increasingly, it’s being applied to jobs that involve lots of repetitive “info-wrangling”— processing requests, compiling reports, data entry, and collection, updating databases. And for good reason; these types of tasks take up a good portion of the average workday. According to Smartsheet’s Automation survey, 40% of workers spend more than a quarter of the work week on manual, repetitive tasks.
Given the rapid rise of automation in the workplace and the sheer amount of work that can benefit from automation, it’s not surprising that many workers have apprehension that it poses a threat to their employment. In some cases, that fear may be well-founded. But in general, automation also holds the promise of improving many jobs — and creating new, more satisfying ones.
How automation makes our jobs better
Despite the portrayal in near-future sci-fi movies and TV shows, we aren’t even close to the day when AI and automation are able to replicate human qualities and abilities such as leadership, creativity, persuasiveness, critical thinking, and intuition — qualities that nearly all jobs still require to some degree.
What AI and automation can do is help reduce our workload of repetitive, mundane tasks, allowing us to focus on the human portion of work that requires our brains to work more effectively and creatively.
For example, if you’re an HR manager, you probably spend a large portion of your workday doing things that could be automated, like qualifying job candidates, sending follow-up emails, and answering onboarding questions. Suppose AI-enabled automation takes over these repetitive tasks — does this mean you’ll need to say goodbye to your current job?
Hardly. HR also includes activities that no computer program can do — like building personal relationships, managing employee concerns, helping managers solve pressing problems, and improving employee engagement and satisfaction. These are the exciting, important parts of HR that you never have enough time for because of the repetitive activities that take up too much of your day.
Some immediate benefits of automation in the workplace can include gains in customer satisfaction, higher employee productivity, increased efficiency, and faster time to market. Longer term, there’s another upside: According to Forrester Research, companies that master automation first will dominate their industries.
“On average, knowledge workers spend 10 hours a week on repetitive tasks and manual processes that could be automated,” says Gene Farrell, senior vice president of product, Smartsheet. “For perspective, that’s 65 days of lost time per employee. If you have a team of 5,000 workers, that’s 325,000 days per year absorbed by repetitive work that can be automated. With that in mind, it becomes strikingly clear that organizations that invest in automation will be at a huge competitive advantage and be best prepared for the future of work.”
Here are some ways to help your team — and company — embrace automation.
People fear what they don’t understand. Build support early on by helping everyone in your organization — from the top down — understand how automation can augment and uplevel their current work, as opposed to eliminating their job. You can also identify internal tech champions that can show their team and extended company the benefits of automation.
Encourage employees to look for opportunities to automate. Where do they spend a large portion of time with little or no payoff (tracking down status updates, handling customer communications, building reports, sending recurring invoices, etc.)? Go a step further by rewarding or recognizing employees who successfully automate core processes, since they’ll be making a positive impact on the business.
Make automation accessible to all workers. Look for “no-code” information workflow solutions that enable your employees — regardless of technical ability — to play an active part in solving problems through automation.
As automation frees up workers to focus on more value-added activities, establish skill-building programs or training systems to help workers build up soft skills, like creativity and critical thinking, to work successfully alongside AI and automation.
- Posted by: AD Group
- 15 January 2019
Source: Business Insider