The scourge of coronavirus could be fundamentally changing the way businesses operate by expanding remote working and accelerating the deployment of robotics and AI.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has released the results of its Coronavirus Impact Tracker, which reveals that the majority of businesses have made changes to adapt to the UK lockdown and social distancing. Most are highly dependent on technology. Sixty-six per cent of organisations have embraced remote working – and 50 per cent are using some form of video-conferencing software to keep their operations going.
Walmart is using robots to scrub its floors, and McDonald’s has been testing robots as cooks and servers. Danish manufacturer of ultraviolet-light-disinfection robots, UVD Robots, has shipped hundreds of its machines to hospitals in China and Europe.
Even before the pandemic, Amazon and Walmart were deploying robots in warehouses to improve efficiency. But Covid-19 has prompted them to increase the use of robots for sorting, shipping and packing.
Starship Technologies has been running a food delivery service in Milton Keynes using autonomous vehicles since 2014. It has seen considerable increases in demand as many grocery stores, restaurants, and other delivery companies have been contacting the company to ask for assistance.
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants (CNC) in Brighton, said: “Social distancing has shone a spotlight on remote working technology, AI and robotics as crucial weapons in the fight for commercial survival. And they offer answers about how your business can thrive in the future.
“Once a company has invested in robotics, for example, it’s hard to envisage why it might revert to using humans for the same task with all the overheads that would incur. A greater reliance on such technology is likely to fundamentally change all our perceptions of work and the working day. It could lead to a big shift in the way productivity is measured, and the actual job roles people are given. For employees, that may also mean a change in the skills sets they need to maintain a successful career.”