By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
What is the most profound shift that’s occurred in the workplace in the past 30 years? In a word: automation. When you request a ride on Uber, you realize it’s happening all around us in our personal and professional lives—not just in factories.
As workplace automation spreads, companies need to identify its quantitative and qualitative benefits before implementing a solution. The most powerful automation delivers a triple win for your company, your people, and your customers.
The Metamorphosis of the Workplace
Today’s college students wouldn’t recognize the office of the 1990s. Dilbert™ cubicles, PBX phone systems, and desktop PCs ruled the workplace. At the time, work was typically done within an arm’s reach of your desk. The dual forces of technology limitations and corporate culture effectively chained employees to their desks.
But that structure gave way as new work styles emerged, prompting office layouts to follow suit. In the past decade, we’ve seen cubicle walls not only come down but morph into benching systems and open offices. And now the pendulum is swinging toward agile workplaces based on neighborhoods, free address, and flexible spaces.
Technology is driving these changes. Consider something as simple as an office phone. We all used to have landlines at our desks. They never dropped a call, but they were only convenient if you were physically nearby. Then we went through a Blackberry phase, which effectively cut the phone cord. Once we were permanently untethered from a workstation, those devices evolved into smartphones.
The same technology shift can be seen in workplace management platforms. Traditional legacy systems were great at handling important back office functions, they are like your parents’ landline—they fulfill their primary purpose but don’t have the same power as a smartphone. Integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) and cloud-based solutions are fast-forming an ecosystem that’s sweeping away legacy solutions on the next wave of workplace automation.
The Triple Win of Automation
Let’s be real—people are still nervous about automation. There’s a persistent perception that artificial intelligence and machine learning will eliminate jobs. And yet the only industry that’s completely disappeared is the iconic elevator operator. In truth, automation is making the workplace more productive and enjoyable while saving companies money.
The secret is to be intentional about what type of automation you adopt. Don’t implement a solution because you want to appear cool or edgy. Automation must offer real and quantifiable benefits. A successful digital transformation is finding the sweet spot we call The Triple Win: a success for clients, your company, and your employees.
These three examples show the real-world advantages of using automation to satisfy customer expectations, employee engagement, and the bottom line:
1) Airline Booking
Remember having to call an airline to reserve your tickets or change a flight? About 90% of your interaction was over the phone with a human being. Between websites and mobile apps, everything is now self-service. You can book a flight, change a reservation, pick your seat, and get flight notifications, which gives you a better, more efficient, and satisfying experience. Automation also allows representatives to perform strategic customer management instead, like a last-second flight change. That’s a bonus for travelers, airline personnel, and the airlines.
There was a time when you had to write your name in a book when visiting a company…then wait for a receptionist to call the person you were meeting. And then wait. Manual check-in is a waste of time, even if there’s a live receptionist who is warm and welcoming. Automation allows you to register on a tablet and sign an NDA while a message is simultaneously sent to the person you’re meeting. The process is not only smoother and more cost effective, but the receptionist is freed up to handle more complex tasks.
Nurses are highly skilled and educated individuals, so why are they spending time delivering ice and blankets? Enter a robot assistant that fetches and delivers commonly requested items. Patients get better care because nurses can concentrate on their primary job, avoid the frustration of menial chores, and help hospitals improve patient outcomes.
Now, consider how automation can produce a triple win in the workplace. If you have 1,000 employees but want to maximize your office layout, you need hard data to make real changes. Imagine if occupancy data shows that only 700 desks are used on a given day. Workplace managers could convert underutilized square footage into huddle rooms or lounges. Automated solutions like a modern workplace management system help reimagine the workplace you have today by optimizing existing space, boosting employee productivity and morale, and delivering better products to customers.
That’s a true triple win for your workplace.
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