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How Robots and RPA Can Help Humans Think Bigger and Work from Home

Much fuss has been made about how robots are sweeping in to steal jobs away from humans, essentially making us obsolete. What’s lost in that doomsday narrative is how those technologies and their ability to automate routine tasks are actually quite beneficial. In fact, because of robotic process automation (RPA), business processes are becoming more efficient and simplified to the point where humans no longer have to be on-hand to perform certain tasks. That means more people are starting to say ‘goodbye’ to office life and ‘hello’ to working from home.

Horses for Sources predicts that 2018 will be the year enterprise robotics software and services will cross the $1.5 billion mark worldwide. As enterprises continue to pour more money and time into robotics and technology that automates workplace operations, the impact on humans will be two-fold:

  1. Humans will be free to focus more of their time and energy on complex, creative tasks outside the capabilities of RPA and other automation technologies;
  2. These technologies will create new digital roles for humans to occupy, and will facilitate an evolution of skills to ensure the smooth functioning of automation at the hands of robotics and AI.

Reading between those lines, it’s no leap in logic to assert that because of the impact of robotics and RPA, and how automation is setting the stage for the future of work, humans will have more opportunities to work from home than ever before. Sit back on your couch, put on a pair of sweatpants and take a look at how software robots will help you do more of that while on the job.

RPA Is Revolutionizing What an Office Is

2017 was a huge year for RPA, and the forecast for 2018 shines just as bright. That’s because more and more enterprises are realizing the business value of automation and its ability to revamp outdated and inefficient business processes to truly digitally transform companies. In many cases, RPA and RDA (robotic desktop automation) are the first lines of defense to combat archaic business operations.

RPA’s ability to imitate how humans intervene and interact with IT systems is proving invaluable to many companies. These systems are easy to install and integrate with existing IT setups, and can perform routine, cumbersome tasks quicker and more effectively than humans with less risk of error. Naysayers might argue that this makes humans unnecessary. However, RPA actually increases the productivity related to these tasks, giving humans more bandwidth to focus on intuitive, challenging duties. As RPA continues to provide seamless interconnectivity, streamline workflows and automate processes, the need for human presence in the office dwindles and opportunities to work from home (or ski lift!) become greater.

The ultimate end-goal is making sure processes run digitally so organizations can grow their digital operations and create new work opportunities for employees who may have extra time on their hands as a result of automation. As the office moves more from the physical to digital realm, people can more freely work from home while tapping into human-centric skills like emotional intelligence to elevate their work.

The Link Between Robots and Working from Home

Most of these RPA software robots are self-triggered and require little intervention to complete tasks. This is great news for those in departments where automation is occurring because it means they don’t need to babysit a robot to have peace of mind that operations are running smoothly. Industries that require labor-intensive, high-volume processes benefit most, where robots do the literal heavy lifting and humans can work remotely and devote more time to cognitive, creative strategizing and work. In fact, studies are showing that more employers are finding that working from home breeds innovation.

Many organizations are taking this to heart. Google, for example, designed Google Moderator to streamline meetings and allow for more remote participation. This enables employees to work from home and avoid missing out on important meetings in the process. Even better, Google found that the tool led to more efficient meetings. Meanwhile, Hitachi Solutions has developed a workstyle, RPA innovation solution to improve productivity stemming from remote work to support more flexible working environments.

Home Is Where the Work Is

As the market value for RPA continues to skyrocket and enterprises continue employing the technology to automate processes and digitally transform, humans will face a tectonic shift in the workforce–and mostly for the better. Robots and automation are allowing people to work remotely more than ever before. This opportunity breeds more thought-provoking, fulfilling work, leading to increased innovation and benefits that companies can’t ignore. The future of work is here, and that future will be home-based.

Sutherland has made FlexJobs' annual list of the Top 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs and can be seen here on Forbes and Business Insider.

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