The rapid pace of technological advancement and automation can create uncertainty about the future of work. There is plenty of talk, for example, of whether workers could and would be totally replaced by machines in this age. This fear is rather unfounded. In a recent Guardian article, Jeroen Dekker, co-founder of Active Ants, mentioned that “as robot technology advances, we can use them more and more, together with humans, to do useful work, and I think this is the future.” In summary, automation enhances productivity instead of taking away jobs. Here are 6 ways how.
Complementing Human Abilities
Robots can perform repetitive, physically demanding, and potentially hazardous tasks, allowing human workers to focus on more complex and cognitive aspects of their jobs. Robots are able to perform repetitive tasks, but are usually unable to make complex decisions or navigate difficult situations. Robots, after all, work for our benefit and to make arduous jobs easy. This collaboration can enhance productivity and efficiency while reducing the risk of injuries or strain on human workers.
Increased Job Fulfilment
By automating certain tasks, workers can be freed from mundane or monotonous work, allowing them to engage in more challenging and intellectually stimulating tasks. According to Joroen Dekker, for instance, “Some jobs are disappearing, but that’s the nasty jobs, for which we cannot find enough people”. While mundane jobs are flushed out in this age of automation, their human counterparts are now free to exercise their own creativity at work. Workers can focus on tasks that require innovation and thinking outside the box, making them more valuable in their field. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment among workers.
Addressing Labour Shortages
In some industries, there is a shortage of skilled workers. Robots can fill this gap by taking on routine or low-skilled tasks, enabling companies to maintain operations even with a limited workforce. The Straits Times, for instance, have highlighted the lack of manpower in the healthcare industry. The article mentions that “with the number of people needing care growing quickly and an estimated 670,000 carer posts to go unfilled in Germany by 2050, the researchers are racing to conceive robots that can take over some of the tasks carried out today by nurses, carers and doctors”.
While the machine itself is still in its early stages, the lead scientist affirms that “the statistics are clear that it is urgent”, and it will become necessary for automation to advance to help take the stress out of their human counterparts. This ensures continuity and stability in industries facing labour challenges.
Higher Quality and Consistency
Robots are capable of performing tasks with high precision and accuracy, leading to improved quality and consistency in the output. By working together with robots, human workers can leverage these capabilities to deliver products or services of higher standards.
Opportunities for Upskilling
As automation takes over certain tasks, workers have the opportunity to develop new skills and specialise in areas that require human expertise. This can lead to upskilling and reskilling programs, allowing workers to transition to higher-value roles that are more difficult to automate.
Economic Growth and Innovation
The integration of robots into the workforce can drive economic growth and spur innovation. By automating repetitive tasks, companies can reduce costs, increase productivity, and invest in research and development, ultimately leading to the creation of new job opportunities.
Balancing the benefits of automation with the well-being and job security of workers will be crucial in navigating the future of work. While there have been some legitimate concerns about potential job losses, there are still ways this can be a harmonious relationship as companies implement policies and regulations to ensure a smooth transition and support for workers affected by automation.