Just who is the boss around here?

Not that long ago I was staying in a hotel for a business trip and found myself in the lift with two of the hotel’s employees. They appeared to be receiving instructions on their clearly identical, hotel-issue, mobile phones and, from the expressions on their faces, were none too happy about this mode of man management. In fact, I got the distinct impression that they simply felt they were being bossed around by text.

It left me thinking how impersonal our communications are in danger of becoming and I wondered if the hotel’s staff had any sort of human contact with whoever was issuing their orders or whether their ‘boss’ had simply become a faceless entity at the far end of a text message.

I imagined that sometime in the past there might have been a conversation along the lines of:
“Hi David, it’s Fred here.”
“Hey Fred. How are you?”
“I’m good thanks. David, could you take some clean towels to Room 123 for me please?”
“No problem Fred! Speak to you later.”
“Thanks David! Bye for now.”

Whereas now there was simply a string of characters:
“Rm 123. Spare towels.”
“Check.”

On that basis, there can’t be too many steps until it’s the guest clicking a button on the screen in their room and a computer dispatching the request to staff and then tracking on a GPS how long it takes them to complete the task. It’s how Amazon run their warehouses so it can’t be too long before it’s adopted elsewhere. Everywhere?

To be honest, as much as I love technology and developing solutions to automate tasks, I can’t help thinking that we need to tread carefully in case we end up removing the human touch altogether.

Posted by Gordon Coulter on Friday, January 8, 2016

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