COVID-19 and the Changing Face of Automation
No doubt you’ve been confined to your home at some point over the last couple of months. Perhaps it’s not long before you’ll be back in your workplace, or perhaps your company has decided that the once-temporary remote working measure is here to stay and your makeshift office (desk, kitchen counter, dining table, couch, etc.) is now your permanent place of work. But that might not be the only change on the cards for us as employees. Maybe, just maybe, the other members of staff won’t be staff.
Historically, businesses have depended on people. Coronavirus, however, has knocked us for six. We’re vulnerable. Forced closure amidst lockdown and less customer demand has meant some businesses are struggling to stay afloat and reports of temporary layoffs and long-term unemployment are commonplace. The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our economies. The question is, will businesses start to consider taking the ‘manual’ out of manual processes, removing employees from the equation?
We’re no stranger to the concept of machines threatening to take over the world. Our stamina is no match for machines that are able to work around the clock. While we eventually lose concentration, machines keep plugging away for extended periods of time. Remove the ‘human’ element from business processes and you can say goodbye to human error. Hourly wages continue to increase, whereas the use of machines sees staff costs reduced. Automating business processes can offer levels of productivity, quality, and efficiency that we can only envy. But is it realistic to think that machines will steal our jobs?
Is this goodbye workers, hello automation?
With the question on everyone’s lips, Pod Group decided to ask business leaders from across the UK for their opinion on automation technology. With 73% of the belief that COVID-19 will spark a new wave of automation, there is no doubt that such technology will start to become more prominent in the workplace.
But what’s behind the drive for processes requiring minimal, or no human interaction? Has the pandemic highlighted the need for less dependence on traditional manpower in favor of a more reliable, less vulnerable workforce? Or is it the promise of cost savings in the current economic climate that is most attractive to companies?
And what percentage of roles will be affected? Are the connotations of automation technology as negative as we would first be inclined to think? Or could automated work processes actually benefit employees?