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From competition to co-existence: Humans and artificial intelligence in the workplace.

One of the biggest business and workplace management trends of the past decade is the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Artificial intelligence has entered the workplace and now, more than ever, it’s delivering unprecedented results. As we look to the future, it’s easy to envision endless possibilities of workers and AI working together to deliver bigger and better outcomes than ever before.

Still, while business executives dream of the ROI possibilities of increased robotic technology, employees may worry about what that future holds for their job security. Although some see AI and automation as advantageous tools, others see this as a threat.

Robotic technology may eliminate some jobs, but the future of the workplace might surprise you. Explore the potential of strong relationships between workers and robots and get equipped to face this workplace challenge and maximize the potential of both these tools and your team.

The use of AI in the workplace

Navigate this workplace management challenge and minimize fears by understanding the full landscape — starting with statistics.

  • Machines, robots and algorithms stand to create double the jobs (133 million) they will displace (75 million), according to the World Economic Forum.

  • Industrial robotics focused on collaboration rather than automation are expected to grow by 175% in the next decade, reports Loup Ventures research.

  • 2.25 million robots have entered the workforce in the past two decades, according to Oxford Economics.

  • Researchers found robots displaced between 360,000 and 670,000 U.S. jobs since 1990 — but that’s a small fraction of the more than 130 million total jobs.

  • Because fewer than 10% of jobs can be fully automated, technology transitions will be focused on more on gradual change and training and less on job elimination, states The McKinsey Global Institute.

How to ease employee worries

As we look towards a future in which humans and robots are colleagues, there’s a lot you can do to minimize fears and maximize optimism. Here are some strategies to set the stage for an integrated workplace.

  1. Build trust with an incremental approach.
    Your employees’ belief in the ability of AI is essential to success. Start small to show your employees what’s possible before making a complete integration of robots into a certain project.

  2. Begin with the biggest benefits.
    How can you ensure your team will both accept and appreciate AI and robots in the workplace? Position technology and automation to tackle the not-so-glamorous, repetitive tasks your employees dislike most. This will show your people how AI can be a great addition to the workplace and really help improve what their work looks like on an everyday basis.

  3. Take your staff to the next level.
    For employees in positions which can easily be replaced or streamlined with AI, proactively offer opportunities for retraining and education so they can gain new skills and get ahead of potential displacement. This will show your staff how much you value them and your company’s willingness to invest in their careers.

  4. Clarify individual roles.
    When robots are introduced to the workplace without clearly defined roles, employees may fear their job will be taken next. Tell your staff exactly what the robotic technology is here for, what it’s designed to accomplish and how it will improve the work of the entire team. When your organization showcases how robots are pieces of a larger puzzle, employees can work with confidence.

  5. Position robots as tools.
    Reassure your staff that robots are strategic, advantageous tools — and your employees will always have the important responsibilities of reasoning, understanding and adding context. Maintaining this perspective will ensure your team members feel valuable and empowered, even as your organization further integrates technology.

  6. Enable effective communication.
    Take the time to help your workers and AI robots work together in the best manner possible. Train and teach your employees how to utilize these tools to their fullest extent. And be intentional about offering staff formal and informal opportunities to provide feedback. What’s working well? Where is there room for improvement? And then follow through on what they’ve shared. Even robots need performance reviews too, right?

Workers and AI can come together in the workplace, pushing past initial employee fears for a workplace where employees can flourish. With the intentional addition of technology, your team will thrive with the help of their new robotic team members.

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