Companies Eyeing 10% Productivity Gain Thanks to Automation

Consultancy group Future Workplace found that 42% of the 619 American-based human resources professionals it approached expect automation to generate a more than 10% increase in productivity for their companies over the next three years.

The gains are based, in part, on letting machines take care of repetitive tasks, according to partner and research director Dan Schawbel. “While some employees will lose their jobs because of these technology advancements, we predict new roles will be created to operate them,” he told Chief Executive.

Technologies cited by Schawbel include visitor management systems, which identify and track everyone who enters an office, and the Internet of Things, which allows workers to collect data from workplace devices to automate manufacturing processes and streamline operations. Conference booking systems, meanwhile, can help employees easily find a meeting room without requiring an administrator.

“While some employees will lose their jobs because of these technology advancements, we predict new roles will be created to operate them.

Then there’s robotic video conferencing, which allows an element of immersion by perching a video screen atop a movable device similar to a Segway. (If you’re finding that hard to picture, an example of this technology can be seen here).

Embracing remote work is key
Advances in conferencing capabilities, alongside the delivery of faster broadband services, will make it easier for people to work from home—something survey participants suggested could be a key driver of productivity gains. The survey, commissioned by Konica Minolta Business Solutions, found 76% of participants believed the value of work is less about where you are and more about what you get done.

Many companies are already offering more home-based work. Flex Jobs, a portal which lists telecommuting and freelance work ranging from entry level positions all the way to the C-suite, said it experienced a 36% jump in remote listings in 2015. Its top 100 list of companies for remote jobs was led by cloud call center LiveOps, outsourcing group TeleTech and Amazon, with Dell and IBM also making the top 10.

“The ability to work remotely helps improve employee productivity because there is more pressure on them to stay connected and focus on results if they want to remain employed,” Schawbel said. “I personally work from home and am much more productive than working in a traditional office.”

He warns, though, that companies may still want to make a good old-fashioned physical work space available to accommodate for different personalities. “Working from home plays to the strengths of introverts, but may be a challenge to extroverts who thrive off of personal connections and cubicle chatter,” he said.

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Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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