In a World of Office Automation, 6 Steps to Keeping Your Job

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By Robert Half May 29, 2019 at 9:15am

While there are many factors driving change in the workplace, technology is responsible for an outsize share of it. One development is office automation, specifically robotic process automation, or RPA. Simply put, RPA allows businesses to automate routine tasks — such as data entry, accounts reconciliation, and travel and expense management — while saving money and freeing up employees for more complex, higher-value activities.

Listed as one of five transformative technologies in Robert Half’s new report, Jobs and AI Anxiety, RPA has the potential to significantly impact administrative roles. According to the report, about 40 percent of the tasks people do today will be automated over the next 10 years or so.

However, the thought of office automation may make some administrative professionals worry they’ll be replaced by a machine. Here are six tips to help you keep your job in spite of the arrival of new technology.

1. Embrace the transformation

Don’t look at office automation as a threat. The Robert Half report suggests that while many jobs could be displaced, even more new roles could potentially emerge. So, view this trend as an opportunity to grow as new technological advances emerge. Maintain a positive outlook, think toward the future and make yourself part of the solution. By welcoming the possibilities of automation, you’ll become more useful to your organization and will be more likely to benefit from the shift.

2. Be part of the change

Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the computer software, browsers and operating systems needed to perform your job. This knowledge can help you pinpoint areas for automation and identify any potential risks associated with a change, which can prove invaluable as your company transitions to leverage new technology. Present your ideas to your supervisor.

3. Seek new certifications

Try to anticipate which new technical or job-specific abilities you may need in the wake of increasing office automation. Professional certifications can provide you with enhanced job security and career advancement potential, so look for opportunities to add certifications to your resume. Consider Microsoft Office certification to hone your skills with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, or the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation, which demonstrates expertise across every facet of the job.

4. Develop additional soft skills

Robert Half research shows half of employers in the United States expect to see the introduction of new technologies in the workplace driving up demand for soft skills. Those companies will no doubt place a lot of stock in verbal and written communication, leadership, time management and collaboration. Look for ways to further develop those capacities.

5. Get ready to move ahead from where you are now

Part of the advantage of this process is that it allows employees to participate in more strategic tasks. If you set your sights on responsibilities that could arise as a result of automation, you’ll gain job security and could advance your career.

6. Demonstrate results of office automation

Once office automation is in place, don’t hesitate to highlight to your manager how you are taking advantage of it. Look for areas in which you’ve saved time and suggest new responsibilities you can take on as a result of this improved efficiency. The more you understand the advantages and challenges associated with automation, the more valuable you become.

Even though technology is expected to account for the lion’s share of changes coming for administrative positions, keep in mind some disciplines still require a human touch. Here are a few additional ways you can stand out to employers:

  • Event planning — According to Robert Half’s research, 78 percent of administrative professionals have been asked to assist with coordinating events from critical business meetings to corporate celebrations and team-building activities.
  • Social responsibility — Admins have also become instrumental in helping their companies support their communities by organizing volunteer activities, fundraising opportunities and environmental initiatives.
  • Hiring — Managers may rely on admins to provide feedback about potential hires or to participate in the screening and interview process, an evaluation that, at this point at least, would be impossible for a machine to do.

The job of an administrative professional is not what it used to be, and the role will definitely look different five years from now. By preparing for and welcoming change, you’ll increase your value as an employee and open the door for exciting new career possibilities.

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