Winning Back The Five Work Hours You Lose Every Week

A new report finds that employees feel they’re wasting work time on non-automated tasks. And even though we really are living in 2021, it’s actually a rather shocking amount of time: 4 hours, 59 minutes each and every week.

Thus the findings of a probe conducted by robotic process automation software company UiPath, which recently surveyed some 2,000 office workers around the world about their on-going struggles with manual tasks. What else it uncovered, as the great write-up over at Human Resource Executive reports: about 70% said they wish they had more time to devote to high-value tasks—and nearly the same percentage said their jobs feel monotonous because they’re manually doing tasks over and over again that could instead be automated.

And what tasks might those be? Respondents stated that responding to email (60%), inputting data/creating datasets (59%) and scheduling calls and meetings (57%) are their top bugbears right now. Those aren’t specifically HR, but they do suggest that we still have a way to go when it comes to freeing up office worker time. But then, we continue to get a mixed picture of how useful it is to fully ‘robotise’ that department, after all.

‘Generally speaking, algorithms do hiring badly’

Take data presented by a US website called Marketplace, which asks the perhaps provocative question, Does human resources still need humans?, of an expert called Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and director of the Centre for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton Business School. What he thinks:

“I think there’s a lot of paper-pushing things that have been automated and work pretty well. It’s just putting stuff into software. So, filling out forms, for example, we probably all do those a lot… but one of the big differences that algorithms make in terms of mistakes is they make mistakes at scale. For example, if you’re thinking about hiring, generally speaking [they] do the hiring really poorly.”

Ultimately, warns Cappelli, business is falling into the same trap it’s fallen into so many times before: getting too caught up in what seems like a neat solution to a messy human problem like HR. “I think the thing I was concerned about was the assumption, in particular, by a lot of business leaders that getting rid of employees, if you can, is the smart thing to do– and getting rid of their decisions is smart, because you can do them better if an engineer makes them.”

Some food for thought there for sure. But in the last part of our July round-up of the latest most interesting developments in HR automation, let’s finish with something a little less sobering: the news, reported in The Independent, that a chap found a way to automate his entire #WFH (working from home) job, but got busted when disgruntled ex revealed all to his boss!

Sounds like a scoundrel? Maybe he was just being smart, as it turns out he got to 2-hour working day by shaving 5-hours from his work-from-home job hours each day using automation. His central tactic was to create a large database which he linked to Microsoft Excel, let the latter calculate everything he needed reports-wise, plus automate various sentences for me and then export it to Microsoft Word.

“The end result?” he apparently told followers on Reddit: “In only 2 hours I could push out what took my colleagues 8 hours.”

Alas, his gambit was undone by a former workplace romantic partner, who shopped him to HR—who, as the rather witty story puts it, “Just two days after” and “to his horror” called him in for a disciplinary warning with screenshots of his leisurely activities and a tally of the amount of hours work he’d actually committed to.

The lesson of the story is either that automating your work is very naughty… or you don’t tell colleagues what you’re doing?

We leave that judgement to you

thedmcollaborators Editor

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