How robots can help boost employee happiness and productivity
There has been a lot of concern about robots stealing our jobs; but a new piece of robotic technology could not only help people to stay in work, but make them happier while doing so.
According to Business Insider, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been trialling a new scheme at its Sloan School of Management that allows employees to work from home at least two days, with the option of making an appearance in robot form if they feel like they're missing out on the fun.
The growing trend for flexible working means that more workers are choosing to work remotely; but it can lead to feelings of disengagement and a sense of disconnect from colleagues and office events.
Luckily for staff at the MIT, they can now use a robot on a wheels - featuring a live web-cam screen on the top - to feel as if they are really in the office, and to remind others that they still exist. Remote workers can control the robot from their homes, moving around the office freely to join in with meetings, collaborative projects and even hang out on lunch breaks.
The program's executive director, Peter Hirsch, saw the technology being used during a conference last year and could immediately see the benefits.
With video conferencing, he explains, remote employees can often become 'just a face on the screen' and get ignored by others in the conversation. But because these movable robots take up a physical space, it's almost as if that person is actually in the room.
He was also surprised at how quickly staff adapted to having them around the office, despite their amused reactions initially.
So, as more and more people choose to work remotely, we could see more of these robots cropping up in offices all over the world - not replacing humans, but improving our working lives.