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Balancing bots and humans in the workplace

In Digital, Efficiency, Teams - 2 years ago - 4 min

Balancing bots and humans in the workplace

Bots are here. This isn’t a sci-fi nightmare - it’s the reality of the modern workplace.

AI bots are appearing in offices and our private lives around the world. Consider Siri or Cortana – voice recognition systems that make our internet searches quicker. There are also bots which take care of your calendar and scheduling – like Clara. Bots are already making small tasks easier. According to a survey by Grant Thornton more than half of all firms are automating – with both physical bots and AI forming part of their plans. In a separate report, the International Federation of Robotics noted, by 2018, around 1.3 million industrial robots will be in factories.

The arrival of bots does bring with it some concerns. The worry that 47% of U.S employment is at risk from ‘computerisation’ was voiced in 2013 by an Oxford paper. Yet, this is nothing new and the way forward lies in accepting bots are here and working on creating a balanced workforce.

Getting the right balance

Businesses are turning to automation for their economic and productivity advantages. However, they do risk damaging their reputation if they make heavy job cuts due to bots. This can be mitigated through job redeployment and early warnings. It has been suggested that there’s a greater likelihood your job will change than be automated out of existence. Take, for example, Clara – you’ll still need a receptionist or PA, but Clara will fill part of that job.

Uniquely human work still has its place. The ability to foster positive business relationships and a high level of social awareness are human skills essential to company growth and reputation. Other industries, such as leisure, tourism and hospitality, require a personalised service, which customers seek out with tailor-made packages and high end service. Areas that involve any kind of expertise or handmade items will also thrive. Creativity and emotional intelligence will be attributes needed in a bot world.

How to integrate bots into business

Bots are cost-effective, efficient and reduce danger (monotonous, dangerous factory work) and make office tasks faster (Siri, Clara). If you’re looking to include bots in your business try and employ each to their strengths.

Keep open and honest communication with employees and allow people to voice what does and doesn’t work for them – after all, bots are for convenience, not to make work life more difficult.

It will also help if you give advanced warning and point out the benefits of bots in the workplace. This will help people see bots not as a threat but as a tool to aid work. In fact, bots could enable humans to focus on developing their creativity, problem solving and ingenuity.

Read more in our infographic.

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