April 12 2017 03:00 AM

With so much pressure to meet labor needs, and the growth of automation in the workforce, you might be hoping that landscape crew members are on the cusp of being replaced by robots. However, according to a recent report by market research firm McKinsey & Company, there is still a significant barrier to automation in the landscape industry.

The jobs that are most easily replaced with robots are those that consist of highly structured tasks, in predictable environments, such as manufacturing or food service. Landscape work is less likely to be automated, compared to other high-physical-labor occupations, because it requires physical movement in unpredictable settings.

Most of the time, automation doesn’t completely replace a position, but the simple, repeatable tasks in that position. While you might think that jobs with low training requirements, which offer low hourly rates, correlate to more automation potential, not all entry-level work is automatable.

For example, the report estimates there is a 25 percent automation potential among chief executives, but only 10 percent of landscape work is automatable. The roles most protected from automation are those that require complex interactions with people, like employee management, or those requiring creativity and expertise. By that measure, landscape contractors aren’t getting the axe anytime soon.