Thursday, 2024 May 23

Cobots—are they your new friends at work?

For years, humans have been worried about job loss due to automation. According to Oxford Economics, automation could displace 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030.

Traditionally, automation has been associated with big chunky metal pieces performing dirty, dull, and dangerous tasks in an isolated environment. However, in recent years we have seen a new breed of robots being introduced into workspaces to work alongside and collaborate with humans, changing the way we work.

Collaborative robots, also known as cobots are designed to interact with humans and take over repetitive, menial tasks instead of displacing workers. Cobots have been gaining popularity as full automation is not always desirable. While industrial robots might be more efficient, cobots allow for flexibility and alteration in processes which are lacking in industrial robots.

You might think that cobots are only being introduced to support low-skilled roles but they have been transforming industries such as hospitality, medicine and law as well. A study by McKinsey has demonstrated that with technologies available today, 60% of all occupations could see at least one-third of their constituent activities automated. Of course, the potential for automation differs across industries and roles. Besides technical feasibility, other factors such as the cost it takes to develop and implement the automation, cost of workers that are currently performing the tasks, and probability of better performance would affect the chances and degree of automation occurring.

Nevertheless, it is clear that automation at work can’t be avoided. So, let’s take a look at how we can set ourselves up for the future of work.

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