Will technology ever replace humans in the workplace?
This is the question that has haunted many a dream since Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation started to become a workplace reality. Visions of robots taking jobs, roles becoming unnecessary and companies choosing digital, as opposed to human, employees to cut costs have been widely discussed. However, while technology certainly has the potential to enhance the work that humans do – and to remove many of the more mundane functions from human hands – it’s highly unlikely to ever replace us.
Automated tasks create jobs too
Automation has been one of the key drivers for changes to the modern workplace. This essentially puts certain tasks into the hands of machines so that humans don’t have to do them. It is most successfully applied to the more mundane tasks and those that are repetitive or simple. It’s true that this could mean that the humans previously doing those low grade tasks are no longer required. However, what is often not considered with automation is the extent to which it also creates jobs, from maintaining the software or equipment required for automation, to monitoring or developing it.
Many roles simply can’t be automated
Change is certainly coming to the modern workplace but the upshot is unlikely to be that humans are no longer required. There are a multitude of roles – both those that exist and those that have yet to be created – that require cognitive abilities that technology does not yet possess. So, rather than humans being replaced, it’s more likely that we will be repositioned. Machines may take over the routine and mundane manual jobs but humans will always be required for tasks that require advanced cognitive function i.e. skills that need either the heart or the head.
Adapting to the challenges of technology
Integrating learning into the working environment is one of the key ways in which we can begin adapting to the challenges of technology. Both workers and employers need to start embracing the need to expand working practices to include a focus on ongoing learning in order to accommodate the fast pace of technological change. Employers, in particular, must understand that simply ‘buying in’ skills by employing workers who have what is required for the start of a role simply won’t be enough.
Every employee will need to be invested in to enable them to evolve. The key here is to move away from the idea of learning as something that takes place exclusively in a classroom. On the job learning is a smarter way to approach the need for ongoing evolution of worker skills and abilities to cope with changing roles and requirements. It’s also more flexible and gives employees more opportunity to engage with their own progression, which can increase productivity too.
At this stage in the game, it’s unlikely that technology will ever completely replace humans in the workplace. However, a mindset shift is required in terms of the roles that humans and technology have and the way that both can evolve to support the other.
At RG Group we recognise that the workplace is always changing and it’s crucial to stay on top of the developments that matter. Give us a call today on 01732 526 850 to see how we could help with your upcoming construction project.