The labor market in the world we live in today is not what anyone expected it to be. A shift in mindset since the pandemic has left many industries severely understaffed with no hope in the horizon for reprieve. One solution: Some companies are turning to robotics as a chance to lessen the workload for the staff they are able to keep while automating tasks that are not getting done because they do not have the staff to complete them.
This solution, though forward thinking, has left some workers skeptical if adding robots means they will be out of work. Won’t automating jobs take away jobs from actual people? The truth is that robotics have already been coexisting in the workplace for quite some time, and are proving to be more of a benefit than a threat.
Robotics Benefit the Workplace
Robotics are not a new concept in the workplace. Industrial robots have been around since the 1960s, and there have been robots in the medical field since the 1980s. Jobs in those fields are still needed—now more than ever—even with the addition of robots.
Robotics Help Hospital Staff
Even before the pandemic left its mark, U.S. nurses felt burnt out, with nearly half of them saying that their workplace lacked a strong work-life balance. Flash forward two years post-pandemic and approximately two out of every three nurses are considering leaving the profession all together. These statistics required action, and that is where robotics—or cobotics (the use of robotics alongside humans)—came in to play.
For example, Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia, added robots that assist in transporting medication, lab samples, personal items, linens, etc. throughout the building autonomously. Studies have shown that a 200-bed hospital moves items like these and more up to the equivalent of 53 miles a day. That's a large workload for even a fully staffed hospital. Once the cobotics were in use, 21 nurses at Mary Washington were interviewed and most agreed that adding robots has been a “welcomed relief.” The majority also stated that having the robots allotted them more time to connect to and be present with their patients, as well saved them significant time and energy. Cobotics were the help they needed to not be overworked, but did not take a single job away from the hospital.
Key Benefits of Robots in Hospitals:
- Higher quality patient care
- Simplification of routine tasks
- Limit person-to-person contact in infectious disease wards
- Reduce medication distribution time
- Create a safe work environment for staff
- Reduce employee workload
Robotics Help Hotel Staff
The hospitality industry is now getting introduced to the world of cobotics as hoteliers are seeking solutions for their severe lack of staff. An article by Restaurant Business Online stated:
“A canvass of 200 hoteliers during mid-September 2022 showed the typical lodging property is operating with 10.3 positions unfilled, with housekeeping jobs proving particularly difficult to fill. About a third of the respondents (36%) characterized the labor shortage as severe. About 81% of domestic hotels have increased wages, 64% are striving for greater flexibility in scheduling and 35% have expanded benefits, the AH&LA (American Hotel and Lodging Association) found.”
But improving wages and benefits still isn’t enough…
To address labor shortages, hotels need to work differently. That is why Kevin Kilkeary, CEO of Prospera Health and Hospitality (PHHS), has been determined to find the solutions that hotels so desperately need through technology.
Robots Alleviate the Stress of Hotel Staff Shortages
Kevin started using robots at a hotel that sister company Prospera Hospitality manages at the start of 2022. “I knew picking a hotel where I had relationships with the staff and could drive compliance would be key in knowing if these robots are truly benefitting the staff like I want them to. It also gives me the opportunity to have open communication with the workers about any thoughts and concerns they may have,” Kevin said.
Prospera started by implementing guest room robotic vacuums. Once the staff was comfortable using that product, they implemented more such as window cleaning robots, restaurant robots, and pool cleaning robots.
The staff has been more than receptive. Interviews with the housekeeping staff showed the majority felt heard in their need for help. They welcomed the decrease in harsh physical labor that vacuuming countless rooms can bring, and the staff were thankful to not spend hours cleaning a pool when they have so many other tasks to complete. PHHS has even created a new technical position at this particular hotel so they can have a sole person dedicated to the use and maintenance of the robots.
“Hearing them say they feel like their needs are being heard is why we are doing this. When we bring in a robot and it isn’t assisting them like we envisioned, we pivot. At the end of the day, this all comes down to making their work life easier, maximizing efficiency, and giving the owner a great ROI because these hotels are their livelihood. It has never been and will never be to replace them as workers.”
- Kevin Kilkeary
Key Benefits of Robots in Hotels:
- Maximize efficiency
- Reduce employee workload
- Increase revenue
- Decrease cost per occupied room
- Create consistent cleaning practices
- Increase guest satisfaction
A Welcomed Solution in Hospitality
Robotics, specifically cobotics, will inevitably continue to be intertwined into the workplace. With millions of service jobs still unfilled, business owners need help staying afloat. For the staff who are working, they need help carrying the workload before they become overwhelmed enough to leave. Cobotics are not here to take jobs—they are here to assist hard-working people by making their jobs better.
Current Solutions PHHS Offers: