#4. Robots are protecting workers from Covid.
Robotic machines – often employed in repetitive and dangerous workplace processes – have come into their own during the pandemic, as they play a crucial role in reducing human contact, therefore limiting the spread of diseases. In this context, robots are not viewed as the workers’ enemy, but more as their protector. This benefit has accelerated the use of robots this year, and it’s a trend likely to continue, even after the virus is conquered.
But concerns about robots and automation ‘stealing’ jobs from people have not disappeared. “When we come out of this crisis and labour is cheap again, firms will not necessarily roll back these inventions,” David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One thing is for sure, the evolution – or revolution – of the automation of some roles and the creation of others, will be a key focus for those whose job it is to make sense of the development of the world of work. The World Economic Forum reported in October (see chart) that 43% of businesses surveyed are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration while 34% plan to expand their workforce for the same reason. By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal. Read more on Bloomberg.