The global workforce has dealt with significant changes in the past few years, and many employees have had to adapt accordingly.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on, and with the emergence of new variants, it’s become increasingly necessary for companies across several industries to adopt new technologies.
Many organizations have used the pandemic as reasoning to justify their digital transformation. Companies willing to use the latest technology will often outperform their competitors.
Some of the technologies used by various companies allow for automation, and as more technologies emerge, the number of use cases for them will increase.
Tech plays an important role in bringing companies success, whether artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML). Automation offers many benefits to organizations, and many recognize them before leaping to adopt the technology.
Here’s automation’s impact on the global workforce and economy in 2022.
The Positive Role of Automation Across Industries
Automation is becoming increasingly significant for many industries, and AI is the driving force behind it.
AI enables researchers and tech developers to create new technologies that can automate routine, repetitive and manual tasks. This leaves human employees to focus on more important, complex and meaningful jobs.
Companies have become increasingly digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These technologies play a key role in workforce development, whether they enhance operations or create remote positions.
An unprecedented number of employees have gone remote — in fact, 45% of full-time employees worked partly or fully off-site this past September.
Thankfully, automation has helped companies stay afloat in a challenging economy. Here are some statistics from Zapier’s 2021 State of Business Automation report worth acknowledging:
- 88% of small businesses say automation allows them to compete with larger companies in their industries
- Two out of three knowledge workers say that automation helped them be more productive at work
- 65% of knowledge workers feel less stressed when tasks are automated
- Two-thirds of knowledge workers would recommend automation to other businesses
These are interesting findings that shed light on the positive impacts of automation. One statistic worth mentioning again is that workers feel less stressed, which can mitigate their chances of experiencing burnout.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared burnout an occupational health issue. As a result, companies are taking a step back to ensure workers get enough time off and break during the day.
How Can Companies Benefit From Automation?
Below are some more positive effects automation has on companies:
- Increases employee productivity and engagement
- Increased worker safety — robots can do dangerous tasks that humans should not be responsible for
- Levels the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses
- Automation frees up time for employees to focus on more strategic priorities
Automation provides many benefits, and companies are using it for various purposes. However, it does have some downsides, as with any technology that impacts an organization.
Possible Downsides of Automation in the Workplace
It’s critical to identify what drawbacks come with new, nascent technologies so companies can prepare to handle associated challenges.
For example, an AI software that is meant to work 24/7 and goes offline for some time can directly and negatively impact a company’s internal operations. Accounting for any potential automation disruptions ensures company success.
Here are four negative impacts automation can have on different industries.
1. Potential Worker Displacement
Many employees and CEOs are concerned about the potential impact automation can have on the availability of skilled jobs. Nationwide labor shortages are impacting companies and their success, and as a result, many companies are turning to automation to remain afloat.
It’s normal for companies and employees to feel concerned about worker displacement. However, there’s enough research out there to show we’re not yet at a point where we need to assume machines will take over human jobs.
Some industries will experience a decrease in available jobs, though. By 2025, the following job roles may decrease due to automation:
- Data entry clerks
- Administrative and executive secretaries
- Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks
- Assembly and factory roles
- Business services and administrative managers
- General and operational managers
- Client information and customer service workers
AI tools that work automatically cannot succeed unless they’re properly maintained, managed and programmed, which means human intervention is necessary.
2. Ineffective Use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Studies show that 40% of digital investments fall short of expectations. This is due to a lack of training on the company’s part or not enough skilled employees ready to embrace digital assets.
Because companies will attempt to implement RPA without proper planning or training, it’s no wonder the technology becomes less efficient and useful.
3. High Capital Expenditure to Invest in Automation
Automation benefits most industries in the global economy, but the initial expenditure to adopt it is high.
It sometimes requires millions of dollars of investment to design, fabricate and install certain automated systems. Not every business has the funding to implement this.
4. Potential Privacy Concerns
AI and automation heavily rely on data, and implementing automated systems could potentially open up companies to more privacy concerns in the future.
Whether it’s sensitive employee or customer information or company financial records, no company is willing to put their data on the line just to benefit from automation.
Automation has undoubtedly impacted the global workforce, and it likely will continue to leave positive and negative effects on employees and the companies they work for.
Automation and Its Significant Impact on the Global Workforce
The role of automation in various industries will grow in scale and significantly change the way humans perform in the workplace. There are benefits and drawbacks to all types of technology, and automation is no exception. It’ll be fascinating to see the opportunities that arise and how they can be implemented effectively to yield positive results.