A line of small robot toys facing the camera and wearing ties.
Image: © Federico Magonio/Stock.adobe.com

Will the future of work really be full of robots?

15 Dec 2022

In the latest episode of For Tech’s Sake, Hays’ James Milligan spoke about the growth of automation and the importance of keeping humans in the loop in the future of work.

While much of society has gone through a huge digital transformation over the last two years, one could argue that no area has seen quite as much of an upheaval as the workplace.

From the explosion of HR tech and automation tools to the remote working revolution, the way we work has changed exponentially.

There are many start-ups capitalising on this transformation, from Berlin-based HiPeople and Sydney-headquartered Enboarder, to Irish start-ups such as Workvivo and HRLocker.

While each company offers tech to tackle different problems, such as onboarding and maintaining culture, there are downsides to the explosion of tech within the workplace.

For example, when the pandemic forced much of the world’s knowledge workers to go remote, there was also a surge in workplace surveillance tools.

Applications such as StaffCop, CleverControl and Time Doctor include real-time activity tracking, can take screenshots of workers’ computers at regular intervals, log keystrokes and record screens.

So is all this digital transformation at work a sign that we really should be preparing to welcome our new robot overlords? Well, not quite.

In the latest episode of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network, hosts Elaine Burke and Jenny Darmody spoke to Hays’ global head of technology solutions, James Milligan, about this and other trends within the future of work.

Milligan said that while there will be roles that will change or be displaced with the growth of automation, he also said many areas still need a human in the loop.

“The human element has to be key to anything we do in relation to work, and I think technology needs to support that,” he said.

“There’s a big focus at the moment in terms of the human first and how the technology can support the human, rather than the technology first and how the human fits around that, and I think that’s critical.”

With so much automation coming to the workplace, particularly in the area of recruitment, For Tech’s Sake asked Milligan about the dangers of algorithmic bias.

“The algorithm’s only as good as the person that has designed the algorithm and, like anything, if we are using that technology, we have to be inclusive and diverse in terms of the people that are building that,” he said.

“It has to be representative of the society that we live in and has to have input across a broad church of different individuals, otherwise the outcomes that come from that are not necessarily going to be positive ones.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading