AI- Your Ally for the Modern Workplace
Following the release of the Microsoft 2023 Work Trend Index Report, we discuss the key findings regarding the recent shift towards the use of AI in the workplace.
The following findings by Microsoft are based on a survey of 31,000 people across 31 different markets, including the UK, USA, Brazil, Thailand, India, France and South Korea.
The Burden of Digital Debt
An overload of meetings, emails, information and notifications, what Microsoft refers to as ‘digital debt’, is leaving workers feeling overwhelmed and unable to keep up with their day-to-day work; with 68% of workers saying they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time during their workday.
Workers are spending 57% of their time in Microsoft 365 on communication rather than creation, leaving 60% of leaders feeling concerned about a lack of innovative ideas within teams. Burdened by inefficient meetings and menial tasks such as searching for information and sorting through long email threads, people simply don’t have enough productive hours in the workday. The top 25% of email users spend almost 9 hours a week on email, while the top 25% of Teams meeting users spend 7.5 hours a week in meetings. With practically an entire workday sacrificed each week on communication, it is no wonder 64% of workers say they struggle with having the time and energy to perform their roles effectively.
AI as an Ally
A surprising finding of the survey is that many workers seem to have a positive outlook when it comes to AI, despite concerns surrounding its potential impacts on the workforce. Although 49% of respondents say they are concerned about AI replacing their roles, 70% say they would delegate as much work as possible to AI to help manage their workloads. The majority of respondents say that they would be comfortable using AI for administrative and analytical tasks. Most note that they would even use AI to help with creative tasks like generating ideas and editing drafts. Other tasks people say they are willing to use AI for include:
Planning their day (77%)
Summarising meetings and recording action items (80%)
Finding information (86%)
Further, when asked what workday changes people would like to see by 2030, saving time, ending information overload and reducing busy work were deemed the most important. The good news is that AI tools can help us make such changes to our workdays, carrying out tasks such as summarising email threads and meetings, starting first drafts and editing texts.
Moreover, when asked about the value AI could bring to the workplace, business leaders were twice as likely to choose increasing employee productivity over reducing headcount. This shows that leaders are not looking to use AI to replace workers, but to empower employees. To enable staff to focus time on more valuable, constructive tasks while reducing digital debt. By embracing AI, employers and employees alike can unlock productivity, foster innovation and drive creation in the workplace.
Adapting to Workplace Transformation
The report stresses the need for organisations to equip employees with the skills necessary to thrive in an AI-augmented future. Staff will require continuous training and upskilling to keep up with the pace of AI advancements if they are to use it effectively in the workplace. As it stands, 60% of people say they don’t currently have the right capabilities to get their work done while 82% of leaders say their staff will need new skills to prepare for the growth of AI. Of course, AI itself has the ability to help educate users, however, business leaders play a crucial role in guiding this AI-driven transformation. Employers need to ensure that they are providing the necessary support for employees to adapt and excel in the modern workplace- a workplace that will require employee and AI collaboration.