One in 10 UK workers support the use of robots to crack down on workplace gossip, according to a survey conducted by Industrial Vision Systems (IVS).
The company, who supplies machine visions systems to the industry, surveyed 2,000 UK workers and found that a minority would prefer working with robots as opposed to real humans, to cut out the ‘tea room banter’.
Earl Yardley, IVS Director, says that this survey provides concrete evidence that, although some people opted for the inclusion of robots at work, UK employees should not fear that they will be replaced by future technology.
He says that employees should welcome the idea of robots joining work teams. “Working with a robot rather than a human will reduce talking amongst staff, but this should increase productivity, rather than hinder it, across the UK.
The age group most prone to gossiping at work were those aged between 25 and 35, with nearly 14% hoping that robots would positively reduce chatter amongst colleagues.
25% of the female workers surveyed said that they felt sad having a robot at work because there were fewer people to chat with.
This compared with 17% of men, who were less concerned about having a robotic colleague to talk to.
Despite many people finding tittle-tattle disruptive and irritating, small talk at work does, surprisingly, have a wealth of cognitive benefits.
Researchers at the University of Michigan launched a study to test the efficacy of small talk.
Participants were given ten minutes to get to know other participants and were later given a series of cognitive tasks to complete. A second group of participants were asked to engage in competition-based conversation, and afterwards were given the same initial cognitive tests as the other group.
The research concluded that the group who engaged in friendly small talk performed far better on the cognitive tests, insinuating that building up a rapport at the office is beneficial.
The researchers also noticed improvements specifically in the area of executive functioning. This is the area of the brain that controls focus, planning, prioritisation. So, small talk does enhance essential skill sets in the workplace.
Resumeok.com published advice on the benefits of establishing good working relationships. Career advisor, Felix, says:
“When employees are working well together, their happiness and contentment toward their job are always there.
“Good work relationships serve as a driving force for every worker to do the best he can to excel in his position. This can also reduce employee turnovers.”
However, this study didn’t just reveal the perks of maintaining a more productive workforce; it also indicated that robotics can increase efficiency and enable staff to take on bigger workloads.
20% of those surveyed said that they would be grateful to have the extra help if their employer introduced a robot to assist them at work.
“This relieves the human worker from what you may call more commonplace work, which means they are deployed to higher value tasks within the workplace,” Yardley adds.
Technologist and business consultant, Jessica Barden, writes on RecruitLoop that “the future is even more promising for this wonder of artificial intelligence”.
She adds that robots are far cheaper than the cost of employing humans, they don’t get tired like humans, so they can take on greater workloads, and robots can come in varying shapes and sizes, and can be custom-made to suit the task.