Organizations globally are embracing automation. Some are taking cautious, small steps such as automating the creation of invoices, while others are taking much larger steps and have automated the fulfillment process. What we can be certain of, automation and robotics is changing the way we operate our business
While change is always a challenge, automation can be a great opportunity for employers and employees alike. Automation can enhance our productivity, improve our work life balance and allow us to focus on value-add tasks and get rid of the mundane.
However, reading recent news headlines concerns remain over how and if humans and machines can work together.
With any new technology there is a learning curve – can humans and machines complement each other in the workplace? Should robots work together with humans, or in silo? Are machines the cause of human burnout and low moral?
Here are some of the key considerations for tackling these questions:
• Collaborative robot (“Cobot”): Cobots are robots intended to interact with humans in a shared space or work in close proximity. With companies working hard to meet greater flexibility in products and consumer demands on the likes of delivery times, businesses are increasingly turning to the Cobot to solve the problem. It is therefore no surprise that the Cobots market is experiencing growth trends.
• Regulation: With the World Economic Forum 2020 confirming its intention to develop global rules for AI and the UK implementing a public division dedicated to scrutinizing the regulation of technology, regulation in robotics is an area we can expect to see continue to strengthen.
• Taxing robots: Some technology giants have suggested taxing robots that displace human roles. This poses important questions and supplements the concern that robots will replace a large volume of employees. Taxes however, could stunt innovative solutions and technological advancement. As we have seen in the past, technology has made jobs redundant, yet it has also created opportunities and today, unemployment remains low.
• Value-add tasks: Allowing the integration of robots into the workforce has allowed humans to focus on the value-add parts of businesses. Workers can focus their energy on exception reporting, creative thinking and judgmental areas.
• Flexibility: More recently, flexibility and productivity are regularly put together when we look at the typical work week and getting maximum output from employees while ensuring their wellbeing. We have seen organizations implement a shorter work week or flexible working hours to both improve productivity and retain talent. With humans and machines working alongside each other, the business can continue to operate 24/7, while affording employers the opportunity to offer flexibility to its people.
As we watch organizations grapple with these challenges, we are seeing what we previously thought of as the impossible, become reality. While it may not be in the immediate future, I believe robots and humans will work side by side.
by Claire Griffin, Director, Audit.