The introduction of new technology into the workplace is often met with hesitation and concern from workers. There are fears that machines and automation will take away jobs or make roles redundant. However, the adoption of new technologies can actually have many benefits for employees across various industries. When implemented thoughtfully, new tech can improve efficiency, safety, job satisfaction, and work-life balance.
Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity
One of the biggest potential advantages of utilizing new technology in industry is enhanced productivity and efficiency. Various software, hardware, and automated systems can streamline processes and workflows. This allows workers to accomplish more in less time. For example, a manufacturing plant that implements advanced robotic systems may be able to boost output and reduce waste. In an office setting, tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software, inventory management systems, and data analytics can help employees work faster and smarter.
Though some may worry that efficiency gains will result in job losses, improved productivity can also have positive impacts like:
- Increased sales, revenues, and profits, allowing companies to expand operations and hire more people. Workers benefit from job security and economic growth.
- Ability to reallocate time and human talent to more value-adding tasks that machines cannot perform, such as strategic thinking, creativity, relationship-building, and decision-making. Workers are empowered and upskilled.
- Potential for increased wages, bonuses, and other benefits as businesses see returns from technology investments. Employees directly gain from productivity gains.
When managed thoughtfully, efficiency-enhancing technologies can create a win-win scenario for both workers and the company.
Enhanced Safety and Reduced Injuries
Certain industrial and manufacturing jobs, such as those in construction, mining, agriculture, and haulage, have inherently high injury and accident rates. The introduction of tech like wearable safety devices, proximity sensors, vision enhancement systems, and autonomous vehicles/machinery can drastically improve worker safety. For example, a 2020 McKinsey survey of 400+ companies adopting Industry 4.0 technologies found that 76% reported reduced workplace accidents and injuries.
Some specific ways that new tech boosts safety include:
- Wearables – Smart glasses provide hands-free access to instructions, checklists, and diagnostics to prevent errors. Smart helmets have sensors that detect hazardous gasses, noises, and proximity to objects. Exoskeletons provide muscular support and strength augmentation to prevent strain.
- Sensors & Monitoring Systems – These can detect unsafe temperatures, vibrations, leaks, impacts, and more to alert workers and managers to issues before accidents occur.
- Automation – Taking humans “out of the loop” for dangerous repetitive tasks like lifting, moving heavy objects, operating heavy machinery reduces direct contact with perilous equipment.
- Analytics – AI-enabled analytics detect patterns and anomalies that act as early warning signs, such as equipment failures or flawed operational procedures that put workers in harm’s way.
Not only do these technologies keep workers safer, but companies also benefit from lower insurance premiums and compliance costs when injury rates drop. Avoiding accidents on the job results in a positive impact for all involved.
Enabling Remote Work and Flexible Schedules
The expansion of connectivity, mobile devices, cloud computing, and collaboration tools opens up more flexible ways of working in various industries. Tasks that once required on-site presence in offices, stores, or production facilities can now be accomplished remotely through telework arrangements. This benefits workers by providing options like:
- Working from home or alternate locations apart from centralized hubs and offices. This saves commute time and provides more flexibility.
- Flexitime schedules that allow modifying start and end times to accommodate personal preferences and needs. Parents and caregivers especially benefit from flex schedules.
- Job sharing or split shifts that enable two employees to share one full time role. This facilitates better work-life balance through greater schedule control.
- Distributing shifts across multiple global time zones to provide 24/7 coverage while minimizing overnight or weekend shifts that disrupt circadian rhythms and family life.
Offering flexible arrangements improves employee satisfaction, morale, and retention rates – especially for in-demand roles where skilled talent has options. prudent adoption of technologies like cloud apps, workplace messaging platforms, virtual meeting tools, and collaboration spaces allows industry employers to reap these benefits.
Automating Tedious and Dirty Work
Though automation does displace some manual jobs, this is not necessarily a bad thing for workers. The uptake of robots, scripted processes, and artificial intelligence can automate tasks that are unpleasant, tedious, repetitive, dangerous, and menial. This leaves the more enriching, social, strategic, and meaningful aspects of work to humans. For example:
- Deploying picking and packing robots in warehouses offloads the monotony of fulfillment roles. Workers can focus on managing exceptions, quality control, customer service and engagement.
- Automating assembly line operations in manufacturing removes dull repetitive tasks from factory workers’ responsibilities. Employees can oversee processes at a higher level.
- Administrative staff in insurance and banking no longer have to manually enter data, file papers, or conduct research in archives. Digital systems handle these mundane tasks, allowing workers to take on more analytical roles.
- AI chatbots handle simple customer service queries, freeing up call center staff to resolve complex issues and provide personalized support.
For some industrial and blue-collar jobs, new tech can literally remove the “dirty work” – eliminating exposure to dangerous materials, chemical, heat, gases and other hazardous elements of manual industrial labor.
Improving Decision Making With Data
The proliferation of sensors, IoT devices, cloud analytics, and predictive modeling supplies industries and workers with abundant data for improved decision-making. Rather than relying on intuition, guesses, or outdated SOPs, technology-enabled data insights allow faster and optimized choices. For example:
- Supply chain managers leverage analytics to gain end-to-end visibility and tweak logistics networks for resilience and responsiveness. This provides peace of mind around inventory and fulfillment.
- Field technicians access AR overlays, machine learning models, and expert systems to accurately diagnose equipment issues, predict failures, and select optimal maintenance procedures. This amplifies their capabilities.
- Sales teams use CRM intelligence to identify high-value prospects, tailor pitches, and monitor pipelines. Increased data visibility directly translates to improved commissions and bonuses.
- Executives and managers utilize people analytics in HR systems to guide hiring and talent development decisions. This optimizes growth, retention, and workforce utilization.
Fact-based decisions powered by data contribute to working smarter. Technology amplifies human judgment skills to drive better personal, team, and organizational performance.
Developing Workers’ Tech-Adjacent Skills
While some live in fear of automation and AI, the evolution of technology is also creating lucrative complementary skill gaps that workers can fill. Roles focused on deploying, managing, and extracting maximum value from new tech – skills adjacencies – are in high demand. For example:
- Data analysts to derive insights from the burgeoning volume of enterprise data.
- Scrum masters to facilitate agile software development.
- Experience designers to create intuitive user interfaces and workflows for digital tools.
- Robotics technicians to program, maintain, and repair sophisticated automation.
- Cybersecurity specialists to protect systems and data.
- Technical trainers to help employees master new software, apps, and devices.
Investing in developing these high-value skill adjacencies through training programs and learning platforms is beneficial to both employers and staff. Workers gain future-proof competencies to sustain employment and boost wages.
Facilitating Teamwork and Communication
New technologies open up advanced ways for project teams, departments, and cross-functional units to collaborate. Workplace messaging apps simplify conversations. File sharing apps provide access to centralized documents and resources across locations. Virtual whiteboards enable collaborative brainstorming. And videoconferencing bridges distributed groups.
Digital tools tear down previous communication barriers associated with telephone tag, isolated knowledge silos, and fragmented teams. Workers benefit through:
- Better awareness of projects, milestones, and updates across the organization via open communications.
- Strengthened teamwork, alignment, and transparency between different functions and locations.
- Fewer delays due to easy access to subject matter experts when questions arise.
- More inclusive participation in discussions as remote staff can contribute ideas.
Technologies promoting organizational communication lead to more bonded teams, informed staff, and smoother project execution.
Providing Growth Opportunities with Training Tech
Developing and upskilling workers is both beneficial for employees as well as an economic imperative for competitive employers. However, providing comprehensive training presents logistical and financial hurdles – pulling staff off production, booking facilities, paying instructor fees, and ensuring retention. Modern training technologies help:
- Learning Management Systems – Online LMS platforms make instructional materials accessible anytime on-demand to fit around work schedules. These systems track completion rates too.
- VR/AR Simulation – Immersive simulated environments provide lifelike, safe skills practice without disrupting real workflows. Scenarios like equipment repairs, safety drills, and medical procedures can be simulated.
- Remote Mentoring – Connecting entry-level apprentices with experienced mentors via video chat apps provides guidance and helps build skills remotely.
- Enterprise Social Platforms – Tools like Slack, Facebook Workplace, and Microsoft Viva offer messaging channels, online forums, wikis, and groups for peer coaching and informal knowledge exchange between colleagues.
- Microlearning Apps – Bite-sized mobile lessons reinforce knowledge in spare moments throughout the day.
Technology-enabled training maximizes informal learning and makes asset utilization predictable. Workers can progress careers within, rather than needing to switch employers.
Improving Physical Ergonomics and Work Conditions
Some of the earliest workplace technologies like hydraulic lifts, conveyor belts, and power tools aimed to reduce physical exertion and strain for workers through mechanisms of leverage, electricity, and fluid power. Newer ergonomic technologies continue enhancing comfort, safety, and accessibility through innovations like:
- Exoskeletons & Robotic Suits – These bodily augmentations help lift, carry heavy objects, improving mobility and preventing injury – particularly for elder workers.
- Smart PPE – Equipping protective gear with sensors provides alerts around dangerous ambient conditions like gases, radiation, or excessive noise levels. This gives workers forewarning to avoid hazards.
- Remote Operation – Telerobotics and teleoperations allow manipulating equipment and driving vehicles from a safe remote location, preventing harm in dangerous sites.
- Accessibility Gear – From wearables for the blind to wheelchair robotic arms, assistive devices integrate disabled workers into more roles.
- Health Monitors – Wearables tracking biometrics like heart rate, temp, and perspiration help preemptively detect illnesses, fatigue, and stress before they impact job effectiveness and safety.
- Exo Gloves & Haptic Suits – These augment human strength and dexterity, while providing tactile feedback to improve precision and protect hands.
Ergonomic technologies minimize discomfort, while assisting devices incorporate more differently-abled individuals – creating more inclusive and accessible workplaces.
5 Key Takeaways About Technology Benefiting Workers
- Automation improves efficiency, allowing workers to focus on value-added tasks vs tedious responsibilities.
- New technologies like wearables, sensors, and analytics boost workplace safety by identifying risks proactively.
- Remote collaboration tools provide flexibility via telework, flex schedules, and alternate shifts.
- Robots and scripted processes take over dull, dirty, dangerous manual tasks from human workers.
- AR/VR, LMS, and other training technologies expand professional development and upskilling opportunities.
Q: Does new technology eliminate jobs for workers?
A: While automation displaces some job roles, new tech also creates new complementary roles and drives business expansion – resulting in net job growth. With retraining, workers can shift into emerging tech-adjacent roles.
Q: Is adopting new technology cost-prohibitive for employers?
A: Some tech does require upfront investment, but solutions increasingly follow subscription-based SaaS models with flexible payment options – reducing barriers. The long-term boost in productivity and safety recoups costs.
Q: Will employees resist technological change in the workplace?
A: Proper change management, staff inclusion, training, and leadership communication minimizes resistance. Implementing tech that augments workers’ abilities – not replaces them – and focusing on enhancement instills adoption.
Q: Do employees need advanced technical skills for new workplace tech?
A: User-friendly design and intuitive interfaces allow most technologies to integrate seamlessly. Hands-on training and ongoing support helps build worker aptitude. Emphasize the benefits tech brings to ease acceptance.
Q: Is extensive worker monitoring with new tech invasive?
A: Tracking should focus on gathering constructive insights rather than micromanaging staff. Transparency and treating employees as partners, not guinea pigs, in tech rollouts fosters trust.
A Win-Win for Workers and Industry
Introducing new technologies into industrial workplaces does require prudent change management and proactive worker preparation. However, thoughtfully deployed technologies that enhance employees’ abilities, rather than replace them, can mutually benefit both staff and employers. As technology continues to change our homes, the parallels with the workplace become evident, as workers experience newfound safety, flexibility, skill development, and job satisfaction, mirroring the benefits witnessed by businesses—heightened productivity, accuracy, resilience, and innovation. Embracing future-oriented technologies becomes imperative to avoid lagging behind, yet it is the careful consideration of employees’ best interests at the heart of adoption decisions that paves the way for positive collaborative outcomes, both within the domestic sphere and the professional realm. A human-centric approach to workplace innovation ensures technology uplifts workers rather than undermining their roles.