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Use of AI on the Rise, Study Finds

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the workplace rose to 24% in the past quarter, according to research from the Workforce Lab from Slack, a Salesforce company. Of those who have used AI and automation tools for work, around 80% say that this technology is already improving their productivity. The top tasks where workers see the most value from AI today are for writing assistance, automating workflows, and summarizing content. Summaries replaced research as a top value add in respondents’ current work since Slack’s September 2023 survey on the same subject.  

Many desk workers are enthusiastic about AI’s potential to improve their on-the-job effectiveness, with 42% saying they are excited about the idea of AI handling tasks from their current job. At the same time, 27% say that they are concerned about these tools handling common workplace tasks, and an additional 31% are in wait-and-see mode, saying their feelings are neutral.  

Most (81%) executives feel some urgency to incorporate generative AI into their organizations, with 50% of leaders reporting a high sense of urgency. And yet, close to half of all respondents (43%) say they’ve received no guidance from their leaders or organization on how to use AI tools at work.  

Lack of instruction may be preventing employees from experimenting with AI. Desk workers at companies that have defined AI guidelines are nearly six times more likely to have tried AI tools, compared with desk workers whose companies have no guidance around AI usage. Even workers at companies whose usage guidelines limit the use fo AI are more likely to have experimented with AI tools compared with workers at companies who have no guidelines around AI usage.  

“The vast majority of people who are using AI and automation are already starting to experience productivity gains,” says Christina Janzer, senior vice president of research and analytics at Slack and head of Slack’s Workforce Lab. “But the data indicates that failing to provide guidance or instruction on AI may be inhibiting your employees from giving it a try. If you’re looking to ready your workforce for the AI revolution, you can start by providing guidelines for how AI can be used at work.”  

The top benefits that executives are most looking forward to from integrating AI into business operations include increased efficiency and productivity of employees (38%), data-driven decision-making (35%), innovation of products and services (34%), cost reductions (33%), increased focus on strategy over rote tasks (27%), and enhanced customer experience (18%).  

What’s stopping leaders from fully embracing AI? Two concerns rise to the top: data security and privacy (44%), followed by distrust in the accuracy and reliability of AI output (36%).  

On average, desk workers report spending 41% of their time at work on tasks that are “low value, repetitive, or lack meaningful contribution to their core job functions.” And the more time desk workers spend on low-value work, the more excitement they express for AI and automation to handle tasks from their current job.  

“We all have tasks to complete that aren’t part of our job description but are necessary to keep things running smoothly,” Janzer says. “It’s the work of work. But if the average desk worker is spending two full days each week on this, that’s a problem and an opportunity. In this pivotal moment, implementing AI and automation tools that are trusted, intuitive, and embedded in the flow of work is key to recalibrating energy at work toward the activities that will move the needle.”  

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