Imagine a world where your coworker isn’t human. There’s no “Good morning Bob.”, no “How was traffic?”, and no “My, what wonderful weather we’re having!”. You don’t have to put a name to a face or maintain a good working relationship because your coworker is a machine. Robots in the workplace is the new reality. While some may find working with robots a little jarring, having robots in the workplace provides a number of advantages.
A new trend… kind of
Those who work in manufacturing might scoff at the thought of robots in the workplace being some new thing. After all, factory workers have labored side by side with modern industrial robots for half a century.
The types of robots, the way we use robots, and the fields in which we use robots, however, are both new and exciting.
Benefits of robots in the workplace
Automation greatly increases worker safety, especially in jobs that require physical labor in potentially harmful settings such as construction, maintenance, or manufacturing. Robots can work in extreme temperatures, with hazardous materials, with poor air quality, etc. whereas human workers cannot do so safely. Automation also decreases the risk for injury from things such as repetitive motion or heavy lifting. Why hoist heavy parts when a robot can do it for you?
While robots make work safer and easier for people, they also sometimes replace the need for human workers. Pessimists say that this leads to massive amounts of unemployable people. Optimists say that automating low-skill, tedious tasks allows people to work on more important tasks, creating better and more useful jobs.
Robots are undeniably more efficient and productive than people. Unlike people, robots don’t need to sleep or eat, and they don’t get sick. Bringing robots into the workplace optimizes productivity.
Robots also provide cost saving benefits to businesses as well as consumers. While robots are typically expensive up front, businesses save money on labor costs in the long run. When costs are lower, consumers often enjoy lower prices.
Examples of robots in the workplace
Robots aren’t just metal arms or motion control systems. They are automated systems, computers, and artificially intelligent programs. McKinsey Global Institute predicts that half of activities currently contributing to the economy could be automated by 2055. Some examples of robots in the workplace include:
- News-writing robots.
- Automated cashiers and self-checkouts in grocery stores.
- Receptionists and office administrators are lightening their workloads with automated phone systems and online appointment scheduling forms.
- Surgeons use robots – such as da Vinci – to assist in surgeries.
- Self-driving vehicles could assist delivery drivers and transportation workers.
- Lowe’s robot greeter.
- Touch screens and to-go ordering apps in fast food restaurants.
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