UK employees ‘largely optimistic’ around impact of automation on working practices

Workers in the UK are ‘largely optimistic’ about the impact automation will have in the workplace, according to a new report from Workfront.

More than four in five (84%) of the 2,000 office workers surveyed by the company agreed with the sentiment that “the use of automation in the workplace will let us think of work in new and innovative ways”, with a similar number (82%) saying similar with the chance “to learn new things as the workforce moves towards more automation.”

Despite the overall positivity, almost two in five (38%) respondents said rising automation would mean humans and robots competing for the same jobs in future.

The research also took in trends around the wider world of work. Four out of five polled said they are able to use flexitime, while two thirds (63%) said they believed traditional office hours will become a thing of the past. 61% of respondents said excessive email gets in the way of their tasks, up 9% from the previous year.

“The reality is that the majority of workers are optimistic about automation because they understand how it helps them focus on high-value tasks at work,” said Alex Shootman, president and CEO of Workfront. “British workers are currently spending only 40% of their time on their primary duties because email and status meetings take up the bulk of their working week.”

Earlier this month, research from CCS Insight broadly agreed with the optimistic view around the future of artificial intelligence and automation in the workplace. Despite 70% of the 650 employees polled by the analyst firm admitting they feared AI would affect their job in the coming decade, a third saw it as a job creator, rather than a destroyer.

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