Understanding office automation and its implementation into work processes is crucial to companies of any industry since it improves business processes and reduces costs. It also plays the key part in improving employee satisfaction and, therefore, their productivity.
What is office automation?
Office automation involves the use of hardware, software, and processes that automate tasks throughout a workspace. Most office automation digitally collects, creates, stores, alters, and shares information.
The purpose of automation is to leave menial tasks to the smart devices and computers, so that employees can focus their time on other tasks.
For example, you’ve probably opened a website and seen a small chatbot window pop up. These bots are automated to answer common questions or guide users to help desk articles. By implementing these chatbots, support personnel can focus on more complex support tickets and let the automated bot handle the rest.
Office automation is also a key factor in improving productivity. If you have a look at our Measuring and improving workplace productivity article, you’ll see that office managers need to collect a substantial amount of data before being able to calculate workplace productivity. Many tools and software can collect this information, freeing office managers to focus on more substantial tasks.
For example, Joan is a centrally managed workplace management system of 5 different solutions – ranging from managing your home office to improving meeting culture with a meeting room booking system, digital signage, desk booking and visitors management. In the background, Joan’s system is not only centralizing its management, but also data across those five solutions. It helps you understand:
Room utilization rates
Number of meetings and meeting hours
Weekly meeting patterns
Who books the most meetings
How many meetings are ghost meetings/no-shows
Who’s visiting your workplace
Health of your employees and who they’ve been in contact with
Statistics like these help companies understand how employees interact with their workplace and if any resource is under or overperforming.
Workplace productivity has increased by 253 percent in the last seven decades (source: Weforum). The reasons for this hefty increase are many, but one substantial factor is office automation. Once again proving that automation isn’t a fad: it’s the future. Automation is how companies will keep up with our ever-changing economy and get an edge over their competition.
Advantages of office automation
Another benefit is employee satisfaction. According to research conducted by the Oxford University's Saïd Business School, employees are, on average, 13 percent more productive when they feel happy at work (source: (Bellet et al., 2019). In highly automated companies, 74 percent of employees say they’re satisfied with their jobs, compared to 53% in less automated workplaces (source: Integromat).
For example, let’s have a look at Joan 6, which automatically syncs with the office calendar. Employees can walk up to a room, see if it’s available or not, and book the room right from the touchscreen device. With Jabra Panacast integration, even meeting room booking can be automated. Jabra sends information about a person entering a room to Joan, which updates its status to booked – offering a completely automated and seamless experience. Convenient devices like Joan improve employee satisfaction and help offices run smoothly.
Automating tasks around the office can also improve a company’s ROI. For example, numerous offices have been moving away from hiring receptionists. With today’s technology, smart solutions like Joan can now check a visitor into the office, and even perform health screening. Instead of hiring a receptionist, these companies can put funds toward hiring another developer, project manager, salesperson… positions that more directly affect the company’s ROI.
One more benefit of automation focuses on the end-user. Automating end-user interactions, such as administration tasks, can improve client satisfaction. For example, one of the tasks we take for granted is signing up for a subscription. In most cases, it only takes a click of a button. There’s no human on the other end approving you for the subscription, wasting your time and company resources.
Types of office automation
The list of tasks we can automate in the office is growing. These days, we can automate
Finance and budgeting tasks
Front desk automation
Internal and external communication
Analytics and reporting
Meeting room management
Just to name a few. The list of what we can automate is always growing as companies try to cut back on how much time employees waste on redundant tasks.
There are numerous ways office automation can benefit a company, and most of them center around productivity:
Generate stats that help with measuring productivity
Allocate resources to important tasks, not repetitive ones
Simplify end-user interaction
Based on productivity statistics, automation is something all offices should move toward. It is a tried-and-true way to improve productivity, ROI, and keep up in a competitive market.
A big step towards it can be an implementation of a workplace management system like Joan.
Editor's note: sources were manually updated.
Bellet, C., De Neve, J. and Ward, G. "Does Employee Happiness have an Impact on Productivity?" Saïd Business School WP. October 2019.
Integromat. Does Automation Increase Productivity? 7 Data-backed Findings. [cited 2021 February]; Available from: https://www.integromat.com/en/blog/does-automation-increase-productivity.
Weforum. Productivity vs wages: How wages in America have stagnated. [cited 2020 November]; Available from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/productivity-workforce-america-united-states-wages-stagnate/.