The prolonged pandemic has already brought many changes to the workplace, and according to a TELUS International survey, 90% of U.S. employees believe bots will play a key role as companies transition from temporary hybrid and remote working models to more permanent virtual constructs.
Bots – software applications that are programmed to do certain tasks without human intervention – have already experienced a surge in demand due to the pandemic, and 84% of respondents expect companies to integrate even more bots in the next five years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way companies operate today and is heavily influencing how they will continue to evolve all aspects of their businesses, including work styles, in the future,” said Michael Ringman, CIO at TELUS International.
“When implemented and maintained properly, bots can help employees work more effectively and efficiently by undertaking simple, time-consuming tasks, which also drives cost savings for companies. Staying on the leading edge of the future of work with best-in-class technology, including bots and other automated solutions, can also help keep employees happy in their roles.”
The top three activities currently being automated by bots according to the survey are IT troubleshooting (57%), data entry (45%) and schedule management (44%). However, the most time-consuming work interactions that respondents want a bot to do for them are answering simple HR-related queries (50%), communicating paycheck information (50%) and confirming the receipt of emails (47%).
Respondents said that if bots could handle more of these repetitive job tasks, they would be able to work on more complex tasks (60%), use the extra headspace to think about new ideas (52%) and connect with colleagues more effectively and frequently (47%).
Domo arigato Mr. Roboto
The survey found that bots are popular additions to the workplace with 81% of employees stating that they have enhanced their work environment since the beginning of the pandemic. Further, the majority of respondents said that bots are helpful (88%) and that they feel comfortable with integrating automation/bot programs at work (88%). Finally, 84% reported that they trust bots.
Respondents not only expect bots to help with the more administrative aspects of their day-to-day responsibilities, but also within the recruiting and new-hire onboarding process.
Respondents believe bots have a place in the hiring process, from reaching out to prospective candidates (55%), to scheduling interviews (51%) and conducting basic questions in a first-round virtual interview (44%). Furthermore, 58% said bots would make the remote onboarding process easier and faster by handling IT setups and HR-related inquiries.
The future is bots
“The future of work will undoubtedly include companies implementing an increased number of bots to work alongside human team members,” added Ringman. “As bots become more capable and sophisticated due to ongoing advances in AI and machine learning, they will provide greater ROI to the organizations that implement them as the bots will continue to amplify their human coworkers’ skills.”
Employer-led training to introduce bots into the workplace emerged as an area of improvement for most companies as 34% of respondents said their employer did not offer education programs that enable them to gain the appropriate skills to work alongside bots.
Of these respondents, more than 60% said they wish they had access to these programs. Also, while most people trust bots, there are still 16% of respondents who don’t or aren’t sure.