Automation is changing the way we think about employee roles and day-to-day tasks. In particular, automating repetitive, manual workflows opens up new opportunities for knowledge workers to uplevel their skills, contribute to strategic initiatives, and evolve their jobs.
A recent study found that hours spent using technological skills will increase by 55% and social and emotional skills will increase by 24% by the year 2030. These projections are due in large part to increases in automation and artificial intelligence.
Productivity growth due to automation can lead to business growth, especially as teams and individuals use automation to complement their process and project workflows.
Researcher Maggie Wooll of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge sees this shift in skills as inevitable, and an opportunity for workers. Automation creates value in “an unpredictable world,” pushing individuals and teams to see their full-time jobs as better anticipating outcomes, as opposed to being mired in repetitive tasks.
So, how can you use automation to free you up to think differently about your organization, role, and career? It starts with standardizing repeatable processes to create more time for ideation, professional development, and make teams more dynamic.
Automate workflows, iterate on processes
Improving programs and processes can seem like a massive undertaking without automation’s advantages. Focusing on strategic initiatives and outside-of-the-box ideas can lead to results-driven workplace culture. Automating most manual tasks and workflows can support work-life fulfillment and improve morale.
Instead of completing tasks, workers can contribute to shaping their roles by suggesting improvements to programs and processes. And as workflows evolve, so must the critical thinking skills of workers and how they arrive at process solutions.
A work execution platform, such as Smartsheet, gives teams a way to automate repeatable processes so they don’t need to recreate the same workflows over and over again. In addition, automated workflows help align teams so that they know who needs to work on which tasks through triggers that send notifications, reminders, and status updates.
When teams rely on automated workflows, they spend fewer hours per week hunting down information from coworkers in emails and chat messages. Using this extra time and visibility into projects, they can think more holistically and iterate on processes, transforming newfound efficiency into team effectiveness.
More time for ideation, learning skills
With automation, you can work toward standardizing the repeatable processes. Once you shift to spinning up projects or creating workflows in a matter of minutes, you have more space to be creative, brainstorm, and develop new skills. As automation is more entwined your industry, demand will continue to grow for higher cognitive skills involving critical thinking, especially in cross-functional projects.
Smartsheet can make this more of a reality. For example, in-house graphic designers often have to take on projects for stakeholders through their organization. A design team can collect requests through a Smartsheet form that populates a sheet, allowing a manager to assign tickets based on designer bandwidth.
An automated workflow can be established so that once a designer is assigned a job, they receive a notification, delivered to communications platforms such as Slack, Google Hangouts Chat, or Microsoft Teams.
As these integrations handle most of the effort around communications and organizing workflows, workers can then focus on acquiring new skills. Whether taking an approved, online course on coding or earning a certification in UX Design, employees can work toward being more proficient. These skills can prepare them for working within their organization and help them adapt as their professional fields evolve.
More dynamic, cross-functional teams
Embracing automation and AI can help businesses and employees be more dynamic. For example, chatbots that focus on customer service or troubleshooting issues can improve customer engagement.
With automation tools in place, customer experience professionals can focus on improving how customers interact with their service or product, by gathering information from and working with key stakeholders throughout their organization.
In addition, a McKinsey study found that organizations are evolving to be more nonhierarchical and agile, in order to match the shift to more collaborative workstreams. There is more value in cross-functional teams working together to find unique solutions to internal challenges, as long as it benefits the experience for end users.
After setting up automated workflows in Smartsheet, teams can focus on collaborating to identify gaps, react to changing business goals faster, and continue to evolve their roles while being innovators. With automation, employees can speed up processes that took hours, days, or weeks when performed manually. This gives them more time to work cross-functionally with stakeholders, think critically, and discover new ways to achieve desired business outcomes.
Organizations that prepare employees to evolve intrapersonal, strategic, and technological skills while embracing automation may find more opportunities for success.