Is Christmas or Q4 a challenging time of year for the workload on your team in the office?

Psychologists Leiter, Schaufeli and Maslach (2001) identified an unmanageable workload as one of the primary contributors to employee burnout. It leads to health problems and impaired performance – and can become chronic. Employees are most at risk when they have too much work and a negative or cynical mindset towards it.

With the current focus on mental health, it is generally agreed that excessive workload causes stress and potentially depression.

Trying to address workload increases but with typical budget constraints, can feel like trying to “Square the Circle”.

So what are the options?

The typical approaches are:

  • Get everybody on the team to work longer hours?
  • Prioritise some types of work and leave some activity for the future hoping that does not cause a different problem?
  • Bring in temporary staff, get them trained so that they can complete some of work but is there desk space?
  • Engage an “Outsource” company and pass work to them but can quality be maintained?

The challenge is really one of “Productivity”. At a recent IOD presentation given by Professor Joe Nellis of Cranfield School of Management, the UK productivity level was highlighted as major factor holding back the UK economy. The chart shows that historically productivity gains of 2% were achieved but since the financial crash it has been at much lower levels.

UK Productivity Chart

HOW DO YOU IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY?

Many business advisers will say “Work Smarter” which is easy to say but difficult to do.

One solution is to invest in the use of software robots.

Software robots are used to implement “Robotic Process Automation (RPA)”. The robots can simulate the activity team members perform on computers by reading from the screen, typing on the keyboard and clicking the mouse. By using robots to perform the repetitive “standard” activities normally undertaken by the team, the workload on individuals can be reduced allowing them to focus on the exceptions and add more business value.

During the working day, each team member will be following a business process and repeating the same or similar sets of actions on the computer to perform their part in the overall process. The activities might involve email, spreadsheets, web sites, CRM, Finance, ERP, Logistics, etc. but whatever the combination they are used again, and again, and again, to deal with the workload.

With software robots able to work 24 x 7, as well as able interact with computer applications at 10 times the speed of a person, a single robot can delivery a lot of capacity to complete work.

Unlike a person, a robot can switch from idle to full utilisation and then back to idle without suffering stress. This ability to increase or reduce activity makes a robot an ideal solution to address variations in workload.

The investment required for implementation of software robots is affordable, as I have described in other blogs and can cost as little as £1 per hour as shown in the ROI RPA Calculator.

If you are motivate to investigate further, the UiPath Community Edition can be downloaded which provides Free Robotic Process Automation software, subject to the licence T&Cs. The “StudioX” element of the software provides an interface for a business user to develop a functional robot for typical office tasks, particularly concerning Outlook and Excel.

It does take effort to create a software robot and a certain mind set to get the best out of the StudioX tool. This provides an alternative to engaging Ether Solutions consultants for small scale automation to be used by individuals. Once the requirement is for automation for use by a team, full UiPath licences will be required and Ether Solutions consultants robot development knowledge will be essential.

As software robots can be implemented in weeks and proof of concepts in days, please contact us to discuss how RPA could help your team workload – 0845 643 4410

Ether Solutions is a technology focused consultancy that provides services for RPA - Robotic Process Automation, this includes using Artificial Intelligence (AI) where appropriate to enhance the capability of solutions in areas such as Document Understanding and Email analysis. The technology solutions provide practical ways to improve Productivity.

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