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Spoiler alert: Fictional storylines of dystopian futures where machines evolve beyond human capabilities to enslave mankind is not imminent. However, what is firmly based in our current reality is that machine involvement in the workplace has already begun and is showing no signs of slowing down. Machines and humans working together is quickly becoming the new normal as businesses around the world are reaping the tangible rewards of automation. But it’s not a case of ‘move over human’, but rather ‘let’s work together’.
Getting humans on board with workplace machines
For businesses looking to undergo digital transformation by deploying RPA as a chief driver for disruption, there are a few simple precautions to consider when planning for new RPA initiatives. Most importantly, businesses need to help ease the transition for employee-RPA cooperation.
Here are a few tips we have found to work in driving successful human-machine initiatives in the workplace:
1. Be clear
The first and perhaps most important task businesses need to overcome is providing assurance to all employees that the intended goal of RPA in the workplace is not to automate them out of a job. Employers must advise their people to not view the intervention of technology as a replacement but rather as a partnership, with the primary goal to achieve superior efficiency.
Be clear here: RPA is designed to work for humans, not against them, by handling the mundane and repetitive tasks to free up their time to devote to high-end cognitive duties. Promoting RPA in a positive and exciting light will help eliminate any stigmas and doubts employees may have and will lay the foundation for continual cooperation.
2. Communication is key
It is important to gain complete buy-in from your entire workforce to make your RPA implementation a success. This is achievable by providing continuous communication and transparency between management and employees through reinforcing the vision of a better workplace thanks to automation’s capabilities and efficiency.
Consider explaining how each employee’s buy-in is vital to the success of this new business approach and how employees’ roles will evolve in driving change. Try to establish a working atmosphere which drives employee ownership over how their roles will interact with RPA. Let employees come up with ideas of how their role will best be aided by the introduction of automation in the workplace.
3. Train and educate employees
Resistance to RPA-led business approaches may come in the form of employees not feeling like they have the required skills to tackle the new digitally automated landscape. Employers can smooth over this unease by providing the necessary training programs and tools to help ease the transition and improve understanding of the RPA process.
4. Early adoption is crucial
The success of implementing new digital systems and tools into traditionally human-centred enterprises hinges on galvanising employee buy-in from the get-go. It is crucial to get employees involved and actively engaged early in the digital transformation process. Start by asking them for suggestions as to how RPA can assist them in their daily tasks. This creates a dynamic of employees and management working together to find the best solution, which bolsters employee satisfaction and, ultimately, complete buy-in.
While the dazzling advancement in capabilities of RPA is certain to take over some aspects of office work (primarily in the administration and data-entry areas), AI is nowhere near bettering the sophisticated intricacies of human judgement. Employers must actively attempt to dispel and debunk the myths and stigmas associated with the inclusion of RPA in the workplace. Machines are not here to take over but rather to help us become far more efficient at a dramatically reduced cost.
The future isn’t machines and algorithms, it’s not even completely human – it hinges on the successful cooperation between the two of them. Without one, you cannot have the other, and this symbiotic relationship is what will drive society to explore the tantalising uncharted territory of the future.