There is an ongoing battle raging between the technologically-advanced and the technologically-challenged. It centers around workplace automation, and it is most likely going to remain on the world’s list of hot topics for the next few years. Why? Because it matters.
Workplace automation, or the introduction of machines and software into employee roles, boasts many advantages and proffers just as many disadvantages. It has the potential to solve common employee problems and, with the implementation of artificial intelligence, it also has the potential to create brand new ones.
So how does one decide whether automated technology is right for your business? The answer probably differs depending on your specific company model and goals. Here are a few pros and cons of workplace automation to consider while making your decision.
Pro: Increased Productivity
It goes without saying that automated technology and processes are capable of performing our duties faster and more efficiently. Eliminating the human factor could be just the push you need to meet your production goals every time you set them. Most machines do not require breaks, temperature control, or stable working conditions in order to do their job.
Con: Decreased Emotional Intelligence
Humans often prefer speaking or working with other humans. It can be frustrating when a robot doesn’t understand your dilemma simply because it isn’t common enough to warrant the work required to program the proper reactions into a machine. Unexpected situations and unsatisfied customers are best handled by individuals capable of exhibiting empathy.
Pro: Higher Employee Job Satisfaction
Although unexpected, automated technology in the workplace can help to alleviate workloads in companies that are understaffed or overworked. Removing the menial tasks from a role allows employees to focus on more meaningful work, which can increase their sense of importance and worth within the company.
Con: Additional Staff Required
Many people believe that automating certain processes will cut jobs and add a few annual salaries back to the company’s bottom line. While this may be true for large corporations, it is not often the case for small businesses. You will need someone to perform regular maintenance on the machine, as well as someone to troubleshoot any potential problems. In addition, you will most likely still need an on-call human presence to step in when the machine is down or ill-equipped to handle an unexpected situation.
Pro: Better Recall and Reporting
Every machine with artificial intelligence, and occasionally some without it, is presumably keeping a record of every move it makes. You do not have to rely on (sometimes) faulty human memory to recap a particular scenario or pull up a work history. The automatic database of details also opens up the option for expanded analytics which can be useful for small businesses in their growth stage.
Con: They Are Hackable
Every machine has the ability to break down, but some automated machines take it one step further. They have the ability to be breached. Because these machines are computers at their most basic level, they are susceptible to exposing sensitive data and processes without exhibiting any degree of morality if they are ever hacked.
These are just a few of the pros and cons of workplace automation. There are many more that may factor in your decision, and ultimately each business will inevitably encounter questions specific to their niche. Be sure to research the proposed technology extensively prior to deciding if automated technology is right for your company.