Talent, Technology

Designing Workplace Culture in the New Normal, Automation-Driven Era

We are unexpectedly in the middle of a new transformation in the way we work. It was always expected that by the end of 2021, nearly half of all global businesses would use robotic process automation (RPA), software “bots” that work side by side with humans and automate the manual, repetitive work we do. But the pandemic has upended everything.

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Digital transformation has become a driving force for orgs across industries. As society looks to an eventual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and companies begin to roll out a return to the office, RPA has never been more critical.

As humanity and technology continue to intersect, we must rethink what workplace culture and career development will look like in this new “Future of Work.” What values should we have? How do we leverage this technology to improve the lives of our employees—remotely or when they return to the office? How can we best utilize the time we’ll save that was previously spent on low-value, high-effort tasks to spur recovery?

Below are three examples of how business leaders can reimagine workplace culture to maximize the benefits of intelligent automation that will ultimately make work more human and kind in the new reality we face.

1. Reaffirm Commitment to Employee Growth

One of the challenges in traditional, nonautomated companies is that employees are often so bogged down with the blocking and tackling of their day-to-day responsibilities that very little time is left for them to handle the stretch tasks that prepare them for their next career level.

The pandemic has increased organizations’ velocity toward digitization, and that means managers can bring that same velocity to their teams’ traditional sense of work, with the added benefit of improving work/life balance. Intelligent automation frees employees from low-value work and allows them to sharpen the skills that will allow them to accelerate their professional development, prioritizing strategy over administrative tasks and more customer-focused, value-added tasks over routine data-gathering and analysis, all of which serve individual employees to be better-valued contributors to their organization.

Companies must continue to invest in talent management. Goal-setting is often based on hitting metrics, yet many employees never get the opportunity to work on the tasks to tackle those figures, which puts managers in a difficult situation. By removing the busywork that masks one’s true skill level, managers and senior leaders can offer a better career experience and advancement to their teams.

2. Put the 80/20 Principle to Work for Your Teams

The pandemic has also introduced ongoing anxiety for our health; coupled with the increased workplace stresses and pressures navigating remote working, leaders must prevent burnout. Some of the most brilliant minds at your organization are stuck doing routine tasks that could be automated. It’s more critical than ever that employees feel inspired and motivated creatively. What if you could free a significant portion of their time to focus on innovation?

In nearly all circumstances, the rule of thumb is that “20 gets you 80.” Twenty percent of your customers generate 80% of your business, the first 20% of effort usually gets you 80% of the way to your goal, etc.

RPA puts a twist on this oft-cited rule by enabling at least 80% of clerical tasks within a team to be handled by a small fraction of its available resources: intelligent bots and digital workers.

By automating 80% of routine work that “keeps the lights on,” your team, given the right direction and incentive, will be free to pursue the creative work that inspires new products, opens markets, and gives companies a first-mover advantage over the competition—and the recovering economy a much-needed boost as market demands shift.

If Edison were bogged down by manual data entry, he may not have had spent the time to experiment and ultimately create the light bulb. Imagine what the next great discovery of our era will be, enabled by intelligent automation.  

3. Advance a ‘Culture of Continuous Learning’

As we move into this age and reality where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are more ingrained and needed than ever before, skills such as persuasion, problem-solving, collaboration, and emotional intelligence will be in high demand no matter which department or vertical you work for.

Spurred by our global crisis, revolutionary technologies are being introduced at a faster pace, and employees must be continuous learners to learn how to adapt the best solutions for their business group quickly. That includes adapting to an agile way of working, testing, and innovating to get ahead—and prepare for whatever crisis may be next. As such, creating an environment where your employees are supported in their journey of continuous learning is mission-critical.

Make your teams and companies familiar with catalyst technologies like RPA to pursue new skills or higher education to make them more valuable, knowledgeable assets to their organization.

Unprecedented times come with many challenges and some opportunities that organizations can leverage. Take this time to reexamine the evolution of our workplace culture. Continue to invest in our employee growth, innovation, and learning systems, as the “future of work” waits for no one.

Neeti Mehta is a Senior Vice President, Brand Strategy & Culture Architect, and Cofounder of Automation Anywhere, leading global brand and culture initiatives across the company. She brings more than 20 years of business management, marketing, and entrepreneurial experience from a variety of industries, including technology, business consulting, and advertising. Mehta is the company’s thought leader and vocal advocate of bot ethics as the RPA industry continues to grow at an unprecedented rate due to efficiencies and productivity achieved from intelligent automation.