Robot workers are changing the way we work. There’s no denying that they’re here to stay… but it does raise some interesting questions about the interactions between robots and employees.
If you want robotic solutions to be successful in your business, it is important to consider how the technology will affect your employees.
Do people see robotic work as an opportunity or a threat?
When did the current distrust of automation in work begin?
How can human workers stay competitive and relevant alongside automation?
Let’s explore the view of human employees on increasing robot adoption to see how you can make robots work best for you and your business.
Robot workers and their impact on human employees
Investing in robotics can greatly benefit a business, including increased scalability, reduced costs, and a more consistent product.
In many industries, robots are increasingly being used for jobs previously performed by human employees. While the exact impact of robots on work is still hotly debated, it cannot be denied that robots are changing the nature of some people’s jobs.
The statistics of job shifts caused by automation are quite varied. According to some recent reportsautomation can replace 3 out of every 10 jobs, especially tedious and repetitive jobs.
The leading media narrative around robots is that they take jobs from humans. But is this really what your employees think will happen?
And just because automation impacts displacement, it doesn’t mean that people are actively “losing” their jobs to robots.
What do real people think about robotic workers in the workforce
One study from the Harvard Business Review found that people’s views of robotic workers varied. While some fear that they will be replaced, more people see robots as an opportunity.
Workers who are positive about technology say that robotic workers have made their jobs more efficient and reduced human error.
For example, said one warehouse supervisor in the study “I think the more warehouses are automated, the better we all will perform. Robots will greatly reduce our workload, reduce risk, and increase productivity. But if we don’t know how to handle them, they’re not going to do any good.”
The quote above also highlights a common concern about robots — that people won’t have the proper skills to use robots. This is probably the most common worry next to the fear that people’s jobs will be taken.
Big shifts: What changed and when did it start?
The current move towards a more automated way of working may seem new. However, in fact, the transition has been going on for some time. The history of “automation anxiety” is a long one.
You could say, the modern incarnation of automation anxiety started in the 1950’s. At that time, electronic data processing emerged as a way for businesses to automate simple and repetitive data processing tasks. With this advancement in technology, there has been a shift in the nature of many jobs, which people were afraid of at that time.
The presence of a robot that previously acted as a human caused a similar reaction. We will almost certainly all adjust to this new way of working. But it will take time.
Ultimately, robotic workers have the potential to reshape not only the nature of work but how people feel about their jobs and their role in society. It is important for us to take a proactive approach so that we fully understand our employees and their concerns. This will help everyone get the most out of their robot investment.
How human workers can stay competitive alongside automation
If people are concerned about their job security in your business, one thing that can be helpful to explore is how they can stay relevant in the modern world of work. This can help them understand how much they still have to contribute that robots may never be able to match.
How can you help your human workers see that they will stay competitive in a world increasingly filled with robots? The key is highlighting those parts of their job that require very human abilities.
Robot workers are great at repetitive and mundane tasks. Tasks like robot palletizing or pick and place are very tedious for humans to do. But the robot can do it endlessly and perfectly every time.
Core skills that robots lack include decision making and complex problem solving abilities. This was a skill that humans excelled at. When you focus on developing and rewarding your employees, they will see how much you value them as members of your team.
Other skills that are invaluable to employees include critical thinking, creativity, communication, and interpersonal skills. It is advisable to provide ongoing training and support for employees to develop these skills, as well as provide training on how they can use the robotic technology themselves.
Changes in how we work and what to expect in the future
What can we expect from robotic workers in the future?
Along with the advancement of robot technology, it seems that robots will become more sophisticated. They will be able to perform more complex tasks and even use artificial intelligence for simple problem solving.
Overall, this is a good thing for human employees. Complex technologies always require skilled and intelligent people to work with them to make the best use of them.
As long as we continue to educate and develop our employees and their skills, humans will always be a core part of every business… especially those that use robots.