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How Automation Can Enhance Work Relationships – Not Destroy Them

Posted on: 15th July 2022

Reading time:  6 mins

How Automation Can Enhance Work Relationships – Not Destroy ThemHow Automation Can Enhance Work Relationships – Not Destroy Them

Could automation bring the downfall of colleague interactions and working relationships? Or could it make them more fruitful and rewarding? Our money is on the latter – here’s why.

When many of us think of automation, we think of the speed and efficiency with which machines can accomplish tasks. However, we also think of how this may lead to our eventual obsolescence and redundancy. Or how our colleagues and their unique traits and skillsets may be replaced with increasingly sophisticated machine learning tools.

The truth, however, is that automation is far more of a benefit to workforces than a threat. An enhancement to working relationships and discussions rather than an impediment. Indeed, Accenture’s recent survey of global executives found that 98% agree that emerging technologies are enabling their organisation to have a broader and more ambitious vision.

Here, we’ll look at how the automation of much of a manager’s workload empowers them to build stronger and more effective relationships with teams, and why this is so important for companies in an increasingly hybridised working world.

People over processes

Your people provide the x-factor that makes your company’s brand so effective. As Scott Klinger, SVP - Human Resources & Marketing at Earthlink told Forbes in 2021, “In a time when many companies are creating brand ambassador positions or partnerships, it’s essential that we remember the importance of our best internal advocates: our employees”.

To enable these employees to thrive, the processes and practices of management are crucial. And this goes far beyond maximising productivity. It also means helping teams feel happy, engaged with, and rewarded by their work; something that’s much harder to accomplish when juggling contact time with heavy administrative workloads.

Within the core functions of management lies a multitude of mundane processes we are all too familiar with, from producing reports to scheduling and monitoring. These in turn require a number of time-consuming recurring tasks like producing status and expense reports, or creating workflows and milestones. Thankfully, many of these processes can now be automated, and more still will be subject to automation in the future. According to predictions by Gartner, up to 69% of a manager’s operational workload has the potential to be automated by 2024.

When discussing the automation of business functions and processes, managers may worry (quite reasonably) about the loss of the human touch. But by removing the burden of repeatable processes, technology empowers management teams to invest more time, effort and attention in the people who make up their teams – and ultimately, their business.

Somehow, I manage

According to a 2021 report by Gartner, “68% of HR leaders believe managers are overwhelmed. Yet, only 14% of organisations have redefined the manager role to reduce their responsibilities”.

Unless these roles and responsibilities are adapted, managers run the risk of being overworked in ways that damage the quality and quantity of contact time they have with team members. Adding weight to the case, research by Asana showed that 80% of global knowledge workers do indeed feel overworked or close to burnout, while 62% feel imposter syndrome and 26% have missed deadlines due to the distribution of their workloads.

By lightening operational workloads, technology has the power to prevent managers’ attention and skills from being over-extended, making their working days more focused, enjoyable and rewarding.

A particular set of skills

A lighter administrative workload leaves managers with a greater scope for developing their own skills (and saying goodbye to any lingering imposter syndrome), as well as the skills of their teams. And as more and more organisations recognise the benefits of remote and hybrid working and move towards that model, the focus on improving ‘soft skills’ in particular continues to grow.

A Gartner survey of 75 HR leaders in 2021 backed this up, with 84% of respondents saying soft skills (personal attributes that make for harmonious interactions with team members) were now especially important with employees not having the same immediate access to one another as they might in an office-only environment.

Devoting more time to learning and deploying these skills can help managers forge stronger relationships with remote team mates, by:

 ● Managing difficult conversations remotely

 ● Actively listening to employees’ ideas, goals and pain points

 ● Developing creative solutions to operational challenges

 ● Responding to the personal and professional needs of team members

 ● Helping team members set professional goals in line with their ongoing course of CPD (continuous professional development)

 

Alongside using new software platforms for conferencing and collaboration, managers will increasingly need to re-learn how to keep their teams engaged, incentivised, healthy and happy  – wherever they happen to be working.

Adapting to an ever-changing workplace

With the pandemic hastening the already prevalent shift towards hybrid working environments, this relationship between employees and managers is arguably more important than ever.

Managers need to provide a sense of continuity and stability for others around them, so that there is synergy between their experiences in the office and their experiences working remotely. As the employee’s primary point of contact, managers play a pivotal role in defining (or redefining) the employee experience.

Your team embodies the values and ideals inherent in your company’s brand. Their skills, hard work, endeavour and personality help to make your company what it is. Automation can be a crucial aid in helping all of us adapt to hybrid working with confidence and trust.

The workplace is changing. At Regus, we want to help you change with it. With offices and meeting places around the world, you can reap the benefits of a flexible hybrid workplace.

In fact – with the correct integration – the opposite may be true.

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