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The Pros and Cons of Automation in The Workplace

The Pros and Cons of Automation in The Workplace

As your enterprise expands, the sheer volume of tasks, and the scale of said tasks, increases exponentially. In order to keep up with the heightened demand, you might find yourself considering office automation options. The technological industries are ever evolving and constantly developing new ways to simplify office work and to greatly increase productivity. From robots to software systems, office automation can help employees work faster and more accurately.

There is a growing need for business leaders to seek innovative ways to increase the output of their workers in order to retain their competitive positioning. Deciding to automate your workplace, partially or fully, is an important decision that needs to be made after carefully considering the pros and cons. With this in mind, we have highlighted some of the necessary aspects to consider below.

Pro – Being Fully Digital

Having a completely paperless working environment is both cost-saving as well as eco-conscious. It greatly increases productivity as employees waste far too much time looking for paper documents. This wasted time could be better served elsewhere.

A fully digital workplace is a central space that can be accessible to all employees and enable them to work more effectively and more efficiently. Studies show that 95% of organizations agree that having a digital workplace is beneficial, yet only 38% of them have actually implemented such a system. More and more companies are having to implement remote working protocols because of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a digital workspace is more important now than ever. With so many companies re-evaluating how and where they should spend their money, now is a great time to discover what your business truly needs to survive this storm. Expenses like business travelling have been greatly reduced due to the current global health crisis, which also frees up funds to be invested in automation.

Con – Initial Investment Cost

While becoming fully digital and automated can be a great investment in the long run, the initial cost of setting up such a workplace can hinder many companies from pulling the trigger. The high capital expenditure required to invest in a high-tech working environment can be completely unattainable, especially for smaller businesses with less cashflow. If you can amortize these costs and figure out a way to make it work, you need to also factor in the maintenance costs that are involved with implementing an automated system instead of a manual one. Ensure your initial set up is installed by recommended professionals, such as Hunt Electric to give you the peace of mind you need to make this kind of investment.

Pro – Increased Employee Morale

By automating and digitizing your workplace, you reduce or totally eliminate mundane tasks. This will significantly increase employee job satisfaction and reduce employee boredom as your employees will be able to focus on higher level tasks that are more stimulating and serve a greater purpose. If your employees do not feel challenged and appreciated in the workplace, they can become depressed at the very thought of reporting for duty every day. Over time, consistently being under-appreciated and under-valued can lead to them burning out, and having many employees reaching this state of mental exhaustion will have a negative overall impact on your company’s culture and can disproportionately increase your staff turnover.

Con – Team Reliance on Technology

There are an increasing number of studies that demonstrate our tendency, as humans, to become over-reliant on automation. This can cause us to act with less caution as well convince ourselves that we will be safe in the (robot) arms of technology. This is not a new development. In fact, it is one that can be tracked back to the invention of seatbelts. What is now a necessary safety feature was once used as an excuse by drivers to drive recklessly, as they believed this novel device would ensure their wellbeing and safety. As with most things in life, a healthy level of caution is always highly recommended.

Pro – Cultivate Collaborations

Fully digitizing your workplace creates and fosters a collaborative culture whereby all employees have transparent access to all the projects they are working on, better enabling them to track their progress. This kind of environment can also foster a healthy level of competition between your hardest workers who will be inclined to always be at the top. If your staff are all on the same page they can be better equipped to reach, and perhaps even exceed, company targets and goals. Having a united workforce will increase staff morale as well as productivity– both of which ultimately impact your bottom-line.

Con – Training Costs

Having a fully or partially automated workspace will increase your need for regular staff training, and this can be a problem if you employees are unwilling. Often, employees are scared of the idea of losing their job to a robot, so instead of playing into their fears, assure them that these changes will not affect their salaries – if anything they could be promoted to a higher position now that the menial ones are being completed automatically. This reassurance will go a long way in getting your workforce on board with learning new systems and embracing the technology.

Pro – Lower Stationery Costs

Having a paperless environment, even if it’s only mostly paperless, will allow you to spend far less on stationery for your company. You will use less paper, toners, pens, pencils and possibly even eliminate printer costs entirely. Given the amount most companies spend on stationery every year, eliminating those costs frees up funds to be invested elsewhere or used to offset the new costs of staff training or system maintenance. Using less paper is one of the top ways for your organisation to be more eco-friendly, even if you are a small business.

An important piece of advice when trying to decide on whether or not to automate your workplace is to keep in mind that you do not have to do everything all at once. Spend some time evaluating which of your workplace processes could be more effective and more efficient if it were to be automated, then take it from there. The beauty of evolution is that it is a gradual process.


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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.