British workers demand ‘more automation’

by PM Today Staff / 4/9/2018 5:19:50 PM

Fear of automation among British workers is not as prevalent as people assume, according to a new report, which suggests that in many cases, employees would welcome greater automation in the workplace.

The Digital Work Report 2018, commissioned by work management platform company Wrike, surveyed just over 3,000 workers from across the UK, France and Germany.

The findings highlight a number of perceived benefits around automation but that calls for greater adoption by employees are falling on deaf ears, raising concerns for business leaders and their HR teams.

Nearly half of those surveyed (45%) in the UK believe automation would give their company a competitive advantage. However, while 39 per cent are considering automation tools for some of their job functions, just 4 per cent of UK companies have an automation strategy for the whole company - considerably lower than European counterparts in Germany and France (both at 8 per cent).

Prof. Steven Van Belleghem, an expert in customer focus in the digital world, said: “The reality is that automation is happening, and that means people and machines are going to have to work closely together. Simply saying “I’m not really interested in digital” in today’s job market is the equivalent of saying “I’m not really interested in learning to read and write” fifty years ago.”

Wrike said it wanted to understand the real threats and opportunities when it comes to automation in business. In a bid to offer credible insight into workplace automation, the study looked into the willingness for workers to maximise their time spent on value-creating activities.

The survey found that just over half of employees claim that between 21 and 60 per cent of their work is repetitive or ‘cognitively routine’, with 86 per cent interested in technology that could cut the amount of time they spend on such tasks.

Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, said: “Automation isn't something that should be feared. In fact, in an economy where businesses are increasingly being required to work faster and smarter, automation becomes the key to competitive advantage.”

The study also shines a light on the differences between the UK and Europe when it comes to automation. It found that UK employees have the most repetitive work, with 34 per cent of UK workers thinking that 61 to 100 per cent of their work is repetitive (versus 29 and 27 per cent in France and Germany respectively).

Examples of repetitive work cited in the survey include:

  • Sales or marketing emails
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Documenting action items from meetings
  • Copying information between systems
  • Preparing reports for executives
  • Searching for the information required to complete tasks
  • File management and documentation
  • Routine processes and workflows
  • Assigning work to the right team member

The top three tasks people would like to see automated are file management and documentation (23%), routine processes and workflow (19%) and copying information between systems (16%).

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