Robots key to a more ‘human’ workplace

Having robots for colleagues in the near future will make Aussie businesses work faster, smarter and simpler.

And the coffee rounds will be cheaper too.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already very much a mainstay of the modern economy with the average Australian interacting with it more than 100 times a day.

This could range from more proactive interactions – chatting with virtual messenger bots or answering questions online – to things like looking up digital maps or receiving targeting recommendations for products and services.

But a new report has found AI will become increasingly omnipresent and integrated into people’s lives, with those interactions happening hundreds of times a day – even during sleep.

While some may fear robots taking over, increased AI will lead to better work-life balance for employees and more productivity and profitability for businesses, the report found.

“While it might seem ironic, an emerging body of evidence and literature suggests AI-driven experiences will allow people to be more human,” AI expert and report author Dr Catriona Wallace wrote.

“Technological progress will give employees and customers more time to focus on what they value, more freedom to choose where and how they work, and better tools for business and society to manage resources productively.

This will create shared value for individuals, who will be more engaged and fulfilled. Businesses will be more productive and profitable. They will also attract more loyal customers and employees.

“Society as a whole will benefit from more innovation and better management of resources.”

AI-powered ‘virtual colleagues’ will be a key part of business teams by 2030, helping combat skill shortages, Dr Wallace says, adding AI presents a “golden opportunity for Australia”.

Digital workflow company ServiceNow, who partnered with Dr Wallace in her research, says COVID transformed business’ approach to technology.

A post-pandemic Australia presents a entirely changed digital landscape, they say.

“How organisations plan and respond to this digital gold rush will make or break their future success,” ServiceNow Chief Innovation Officer Dave Wright said.

“Executives have to consider the evolving attitudes and technological advances …

“Organisations must consider how systems, operations and people are working in harmony or customer and employee experiences will suffer.

“Done right, it will deliver substantial benefits to people, society and our economy.”

Dr Wallace’s report revealed four societal trends, including the emergence of ‘machine-mates’ (human-AI teams); the rise of hyper-personalisation for both employees and consumers; the ethical considerations that will drive AI-adoption; and the notion of accepting diversity of opinions in the workplace.

In this near future, workers will be encouraged to prioritise self-care and ‘me-time’.

AI tools will be used to identify overworked individuals so managers can divert work to avoid burn-out.

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