9 real-world examples of automation in the workplace

Despite the buzz about robots replacing workers, many automation experts say machines can actually help us be more productive, freeing us of our most mundane and time-consuming tasks so that we can drive more value at work. Here are 9 examples of how automation, machines, and intelligent software solutions can make life in the office easier.

1. Employee analytics

Smart automation systems excel at wading through deep pools of data to pull out important insights.

Software solutions like Gusto, Culture Amp, and Luminoso help HR leaders make sense of vast amounts of employee data to improve employee happiness year-round (instead of waiting for the annual review). Big name companies like Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and Hulu are already using these tools to better understand and engage their global teams.

But as with most new technologies, there are pros and cons. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently wrote about the dangers of putting blind trust into an AI-powered HR tool. And as with automated recruitment, even a great AI tool can have errors in its employee data analysis.

For example, if the AI has insufficient data to work with, it can end up taking the bulk of its insights from one large group within the company, giving uneven weight to that cohort. Always ask vendors for examples, case studies, and references to understand how these tools function in a real-world workplace environment.

Culture Amp uses a heatmap to help HR visualize its employee data. This image shows global employee survey scores by country, department, team, gender, age, and tenure. 

2. Hiring process

Hiring is one of the toughest and most critical tasks for any business—but sifting through a sea of applications can keep your HR pros chained to their desks for days, or even weeks.

Automated hiring tools can read through applications at amazing speeds, searching for specific keywords to quickly identify the best candidates from thousands of applications. According to CareerBuilder, 71% of employers said automated applicant tracking software helped improve the candidate experience. Automated hiring and recruitment tools such as Mya, Smashfly, and BreezyHR use AI to significantly reduce the time to hire and accelerate the screening process.

But there are some risks. Automated systems can sometimes overemphasize keywords, causing them to miss qualified applicants—and even resulting in some applicants trying to cheat the system. HR professor at Wharton, Peter Capelli says it’s important to ask your vendor to show (not just tell) you how their services get the right employees.

example of automation in the workplace

An employee applicant conducts a video screening during an automated hiring process. Source: BreezyHR

Automated recruitment tools like Breezy keep the process human with quick video assessment tools to help HR pros save time and get to know the person behind the resume. 

3. Employee help desk support

Chatbots aren’t only becoming more common, but more intelligent and useful.

And they don’t have to be limited to customer requests. Tired of answering the same questions about vacation policies and wifi passwords? atSpoke can help.

atSpoke uses a smart bot to answer internal requests, so you don’t have to. Employees can send atSpoke their questions via Slack, email, SMS, and more—and immediately get the info they need. And that’s great news for IT, HR, and office managers, who now have way more time for their core responsibilities and big picture projects.

atSpoke sounds human, and learns like one too. It uses AI to draw insights from each request, so it can answer future questions faster.

example of automation in the workplace

4. Meetings

In offices big and small, meetings can be tricky. Scheduling, finding the perfect space, and making sure the right people show up—it’s a juggling act.

Tools like Doodle put an end to tedious group emails so you can easily compare availability and find a time that works for everyone, even if you have participants in different timezones.

And to help streamline face-to-face meetings, tools like Teem provide automated office lobby displays to let visitors and customers know when they’re up, and help direct meeting participants to the right room.

Meeting scheduling automation

Source: Teem

5. Form autofill

The boredom of filling out online forms and resetting forgotten passwords is easy to dodge with tools like LastPass and RoboForm.

These awesome automation tools use strong encryption technology to help you securely and automatically fill in any online form. Even entering payment information is fast, secure, and easy. These tools can also help you generate extra strong passwords and store them in a locally encrypted password-protected vault.

Save your mental bandwidth for the stuff that matters most. With these tools, one password is all you’ll ever need.

LastPass UI

Source: TechRadar

6. Facility management

We think about work a lot, but not really from a brick-and-mortar perspective. But great facilities management can do a lot for your office (and your bottom line!).

According to Emaint facilities management software, their automated services have helped companies save up to $100,000 dollars in annual operating expenses and improve productivity by 20%. Automated workplace tools like Comfy can connect employees directly to office buildings and workplace systems, allowing them to request temperature changes, see available meeting rooms, and control lighting.

Then there’s tools that use Bluetooth beacons such Kisi and Estimote, which can make it incredibly easy to grant access to your physical work spaces, help new employees navigate the office, or even kick off a meeting as soon as the organizer enters the room.

Many automated solutions record and measure facilities data and can even alert your facilities manager to problems in real-time, so they take immediate action and keep the office running smoothly.

Comfy app

Comfy helps office workers find on-demand comfort. Source: Comfy

7. Office design

Automated facilities management is pretty cool, right?

Great automation can go even further, to actually inform the total design of your workplace—we’re talking everything from the fern in the lobby to the mousepad on your desk.

Case in point, Toronto-based company AutoDesk used a combo of AI and generative design for their 16,000-sq-ft headquarters to make sure each and every one of their 250 employees had the office workspace of their dreams.

Design firms like Dialog and software tools like Fusion360 use AI to create and compare thousands of intelligent office designs and select the one that best meets the needs of your entire workforce.

Autodesk AI-designed office

Check out AutoDesk’s AI-designed office. Not too shabby, huh? Source: Motherboard

8. Customer support

Customers need support around the clock, making it hard to manage for normal human beings who need sleep. Thank goodness for chatbots.

Chatbots can easily take the night shift for your employees and make sure your customers get the support they need. From classic Facebook Messenger, to ChatFuel (used by the likes of Adidas, MTV, and TechCrunch), and Chatlio (great for Slack users), there’s no shortage of great options for off-the-shelf or build-your-own customer support chatbots.

According to a recent survey, 45.8% of people would rather contact a business through messaging than email. And most chatbots can easily integrate with automated customer support desks like Zendesk and Freshdesk, which can dramatically reduce support desk traffic and time per ticket. You can also set automated follow-ups to make sure your support teams connect more personally, say by phone or personal email, at the right time in the customer journey.

Because after all, humans still like talking to humans. Try these tips to make your bot feel more human, when there just isn’t one available.

example of automation in the workplace

Source: Chatlio

9. Digital signatures

As so many technologies advance, it seems like printers stay stuck in the past.

Tools like DocuSign and HelloSign make it a breeze to send and sign important documents without ever having to worry about printer jams or ink refills.

Electronic signatures are increasingly commonplace in many business settings, and they can drastically cut down approval times to help keep teams moving forward.

With most document sending and signing tools, you can upload and save your most commonly used templates to speed up the doc prepping process. Most automated e-signature tools will also monitor and secure your docs, so you always know the status of your pending contracts, and can rest assured knowing they’re being safely sent and received.

Automated digital signatures

Source: HelloSign

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