Remote work and automation, which exploded in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, will remain prevalent at U.S. businesses as they find their way forward post-pandemic. In its fourth annual Future of Work Survey: The New Frontier of the American Workplace, educational technology provider MindEdge found that 52 percent of respondents increased their use of automation through the pandemic, and called it “the new normal.”
While many companies expect to bring back furloughed or laid-off employees, others will simply have to adjust to being smaller, the report said. Nearly two-thirds of managers polled in the survey said they had to make cuts because of the pandemic and 13 percent expect that “significant workforce reductions” will continue in the future.
Among companies that implemented automation last year, 40 percent said there were job cuts associated with automation, 39 percent said there were no cuts and 10 percent reported their companies added positions. Overall, however, companies report that retraining workers whose jobs are affected by automation will be vital.
“Automation and robotics have been reshaping the workplace for several years, but tighter budgets and the risk of exposure during the pandemic have led companies to accelerate their adoption of these technologies,” said Frank Connolly, director of research at MindEdge Learning. “At the same time, employers are realizing that despite advancements in technology, automation can’t replace many skills that are essentially human, and these are the skills that can help workers ‘future-proof’ their careers.”