75 percent people use AI at work: Report

Despite fears of job loss, leaders report a talent shortage for key roles. And as more employees eye a career move, managers say AI aptitude could rival experience.

By  Indrani BoseMay 9, 2024 11:19 AM
75 percent people use AI at work: Report
To help leaders and organizations overcome AI inertia, Microsoft and LinkedIn looked at how AI will reshape work and the labor market broadly, surveying 31,000 people across 31 countries. (Representational image via Unsplash)

The 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report from Microsoft and LinkedIn states that 2024 is the year AI at work gets real. Use of generative AI has nearly doubled in the last six months, with 75% of global knowledge workers using it. And employees, struggling under the pace and volume of work, are bringing their own AI to work. While leaders agree AI is a business imperative, many believe their organization lacks a plan and vision to go from individual impact to applying AI to drive the bottom line. The pressure to show immediate

ROI is making leaders inert, even in the face of AI inevitability. Just as with the advent of the internet or the PC, business transformation comes with broad adoption. Organizations that apply AI to drive growth, manage costs, and deliver greater value to customers will pull ahead.

At the same time, the labor market is set to shift again—with AI playing a major role. Despite fears of job loss, leaders report a talent shortage for key roles. And as more employees eye a career move, managers say AI aptitude could rival experience. For many employees, AI will raise the bar but break the career ceiling.

To help leaders and organizations overcome AI inertia, Microsoft and LinkedIn looked at how AI will reshape work and the labor market broadly, surveying 31,000 people across 31 countries.

Findings: 75 percent of knowledge workers use AI at work. Employees want AI at work—and they won’t wait for companies to catch up.

46 percent of users started using it less than six months ago. Users say AI helps them save time (90 percent), focus on their most important work (85 percent), be more creative (84 percent), and enjoy their work more (83 percent).

The heaviest Teams users (the top 5 percent) summarized 8 hours of meetings using Copilot in the month of March, the equivalent of an entire workday.

While most leaders agree AI is a necessity, the pressure to show immediate ROI is making leaders move slowly.

79 percent of leaders agree their company needs to adopt AI to stay competitive, but 59% worry about quantifying the productivity gains of AI.

This uncertainty is stalling vision: 60 percent of leaders worry their organization’s leadership lacks a plan and vision to implement AI.

Without guidance or clearance from the top, employees are taking things into their own hands and keeping AI use under wraps:

78 percent of AI users are bringing their own AI tools to work (BYOAI)—it’s even more common at small and medium-sized companies (80 percent). And it’s not just Gen Z—BYOAI cuts across all generations.

52 percent of people who use AI at work are reluctant to admit to using it for their most important tasks.

53 percent of people who use AI at work worry that using it on important work tasks makes them look replaceable. This approach means missing out on the benefits that come from strategic AI use at scale. It also puts company data at risk in an environment where leaders’ #1 concern for the year ahead is cybersecurity and data privacy.

BYOAI Is Not Just for Gen Z. Employees across every age group are bringing their own AI tools to work. 78% millennials, 76% GenX and 73% boomers use BYOAI.

Another driver of BYOAI: work has accelerated faster than employees’ ability to keep up. 68% of people say they struggle with the pace and volume of work, and 46% feel burned out.

Email overload persists—85% of emails are read in under 15 seconds, and the typical person has to read about 4 emails for every 1 they send. Meetings and after-hours work are holding steady at their post-pandemic highs, and the workday still skews toward communication: in the Microsoft 365 apps, users spend 60% of their time on emails, chats, and meetings, and only 40% in creation apps like Word and PowerPoint.

As AI use surges ahead, leaders who are “extremely familiar” with AI see its potential to be as transformational as the shift from a typewriter to a computer. Within the next five years, 41% of these leaders expect to redesign business processes from the ground up with AI. In the same time frame, they anticipate orchestrating (38%) and training a team of AI bots (42%), and ensuring the ethical use of AI (47%) will be a core part of their job.

The data is clear: People are overwhelmed with digital debt and under duress at work— and they are turning to AI for relief. The opportunity for every leader is to channel this momentum into ROI.

First Published on May 9, 2024 11:15 AM

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