Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, examines the future of the workplace as automation and artificial intelligence shift the landscape
Automation Workplace-In late March, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of automation in the future – equivalent to 7.4% of all jobs in the UK. Far from a distant challenge, automation is already significantly embedded within UK society – from self-checkouts to online chatbots – changing the nature of work for UK businesses and their employees.
However, the impact of AI is not about replacement, but rather a displacement of jobs, a process which will take time and not happen overnight. Data shows that automation is actually causing a fundamental shift in the makeup of the UK’s labour market, giving employees more freedom to engage in tasks that require a distinctly human skill set.
ONS statistics show that while the overall number of jobs in the UK has increased, the majority are in occupations with a low or medium risk of automation, demonstrating that the labour market appears to be adapting and shifting towards jobs that require more complex and less routine skills.
The rise of automation
New technologies are reshaping the future of the workplace by allowing the automation of manual tasks in operations and processes that require rote learning with algorithms or robots. These tasks are often susceptible to human error, and so automation can help to improve the accuracy and efficiency of many business operations. This is only one aspect of the ongoing digitalisation that the UK workplace is currently undergoing.
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From HR departments to accounting and finance, automation is already having a profound effect on the modern workplace. For example, automated candidate attraction tools, compliance processes and providing quicker customer support are just some of the ways in which automation is freeing up employee time by taking over time-consuming and mundane tasks and allowing employees to work on the more strategic, creative and value-adding tasks.