Study: Most People Okay with Robots in the Workplace

July 20, 2015

12:30 pm

Would you be cool with having a robot as a coworker? Well, it may soon be time to start considering such a reality. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.K.-based Expert Market, 70 percent of managers would consider using a robot on their work teams – with only a small percentage (15 percent) of those surveyed concerned that robots are taking over the world.

The survey was conducted with participation from more than 200 top-level/senior managers. In spite of the news earlier this month that a Volkswagen employee got killed by a robot at the company’s assembly plant, most managers are pretty comfortable replacing their human staff with machines. Indeed, 47 percent of those surveyed admitted that they would not feel guilty about “hiring” a machine over a human.

Among those surveyed, 68 percent agreed that a lot of their work could be done by a robot. Among the benefits listed by managers of having robots on their staff included not having the robots take sick days, upholding a more consistent standard, and not having to worry that robots would leave for another job. However, while managers consistently agreed that tasks like admin, phone answering, emailing, and report writing were things they believed could be done by robots, other things like PR, marketing, and design were areas where they felt a lack of creativity and original thought limited a robot’s skill set.

For some, the results of this survey may be disconcerting; for years, many have argued over the economical costs and benefits to utilizing robots in the workplace across several industries. Both sides definitely have their strong points, but it can still be somewhat uncomfortable to imagine a world in which robots work alongside humans in the office.

In a recent episode of The Truth podcast – which features original, fictional stories – they imagined a world in which robots replaced most of the human workforce and created a new Age of Leisure. Titled “The Last Job” and inspired by economist John Maynard Keynes’ 1930 essay, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”. It’s a compelling and uncomfortable story that begs the question: if and when robots take over most of our job responsibilities, how will we occupy our time? You can listen to the story below:

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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