Infusing Creativity into the New Workplace—It’s Easier than You Think

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In the early 2000s, a fast-growing e-commerce company created a centralized compute and storage capability so its new business units would not have to build their own. It was designed for internal use, but the company realized that the extra capacity could be sold to outsiders. The result was a $10 billion business called Amazon Web Services (AWS).

This is an extreme example of how an endless flow of creative ideas from employees can have a major business impact, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has altered daily work rhythms across the world. Ideas arise at times when employees are not totally consumed by the need to finish their day-to-day tasks, whether working remotely or not, that include manual, repetitive processes. With intelligent automation, they can engage in more creative thinking.

Forward-looking HR organizations often invest in training programs that encourage creative thinking, but bringing spontaneity and what amounts to a sense of play into a problem-solving process at work is not easy. Unfortunately, many tasks can be monotonous and repetitive. In one recent study, 62% of employees reported their work involved a significant amount of time-intensive, low-reward administrative labor, such as data entry, in-box management, and file management.

When employees are bored and, at the same time, under pressure to complete an endless string of repetitive tasks, they are unlikely to be engaged, much less come up with creative solutions that will impact the bottom line. Engagement is important, whether working remotely or not, and in fact, remote work calls for new kinds of engagement. Research shows that engaged teams are 22% more profitable and have higher morale.

Technology vs. Drudgery

The implication here is that for HR organizations to be truly effective in building engagement and promoting creativity, they must find ways to eliminate drudgery from work throughout the company. Until recently, the idea that HR could play such a role would have bordered on impossible, but not anymore. Technology now exists that can enable nontechnical employees to automate manual, repetitive tasks on their own, and HR and IT can unite to take a leading role in teaching them how to do it.

This technology is called robotic process automation (RPA), and its importance is growing rapidly. In 2019, the RPA market was valued at $1.1 billion, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.6% through 2027.

The basic premise is that when employees are faced with a repetitive, rules-based process, they can either deploy or build a software bot to do it for them. Examples include invoice matching, sales order processing, employee onboarding, data entry, e-mail marketing, and inventory management (inter-system communication), but these are only a few out of many. Any repetitive, rules-based process is a candidate…

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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