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The robot in the window seat

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to point to some emerging workplace issues relating to the increasing collaboration between human and robot workers. As the number of human workers shrinks and that of robots increases, how will this change the dynamics of the workplace and human worker motivation? Design/methodology/approach – The approach of this paper is to examine recent academic, business and media writings on the subject of artificial intelligence and robotics in the workplace to identify gaps in our understanding of the new hybrid work environment. Findings – What the author has found is that although there are numerous voices expressing concerns about the replacement of human workers by robots, there has not as yet been a substantive study of the impact on human workers of sharing their work life with robots in this environment. Research limitations/implications – The findings in this paper are limited by the fact that they are drawn from a review of the secondary literature rather than from primary research and are therefore speculative and anecdotal. Practical implications – The practical implications of the findings are to suggest that it is time to establish a systematic and standardized method for analyzing and measuring the impact on human workers of operating in an environment increasingly populated by automated co-workers. Social implications – The author suspects that the social implications will be to suggest that as a human society we will need to establish psychologically and culturally valid means for coping with this new work environment, and the author believes some of the findings may well prove counter intuitive within the social context of work. Originality/value – The author does not believe there is any substantial work addressing the social, psychological or cultural implications of humans working besides robots on a daily basis.