Despite 36% of UK and US employees using artificial intelligence on a weekly basis at work, less than a quarter of companies provide any guidance for their workers on how they should be harnessing the technology, new research by work management platform Asana found.
The use cases for this technology have rapidly expanded since the introduction of generative AI tools into the public domain, with most workers using the technology to streamline tasks and reduce so-called busy work.
According to the report, 30% of employees surveyed for the report currently use AI for data analysis, and 25% for administrative functions. However, many want to take things even further, with 45% of US respondents saying they want to use AI for brainstorming. In the UK, that figure sits at 32%.
The research from Asana’s Work Innovation Lab consists of responses from 4,546 knowledge workers in the US and UK in July 2023 and sought to better understand how pervasive AI technologies have become in the workplace. None of those surveyed were Asana customers or employees.
“We are moving into a new phase of AI’s role in our workplaces,” said Asana’s CIO Saket Srivastava, in comments posted alongside the report. “Our study shows that more employees are now embracing AI at work and see the potential of AI to save time and help them focus on more strategic tasks.”
More guidance needed
It’s not just employees that are embracing the benefits of AI in the workplace: 55% of executives surveyed said they use AI for goal setting, while 61% believe that the technology will help their companies reach their objectives more effectively than traditional methods. Consequently, 51% of executives said they would be willing to pay more money for workplace tools if they were powered by AI.
However, despite the widespread belief amongst those surveyed that AI will bring a number of benefits to the workplace, employees are concerned that they’ll be judged negatively for using the technology at work, with 26% of workers worried they will be viewed as lazy for using it and 20% admitting they feel like a fraud for using AI at work.
As governments grapple with how to regulate AI, companies too need to start taking responsibility for putting policy, guidance, and training in place, with 48% of employees wanting more guidance from their employers on how to use AI. Currently, only 24% of employees surveyed said they’ve received any sort of guidelines for using AI at work. In the US, 23% of companies have offered their staff training, a figure that sits at a lowly 13% in the UK.
Long term, this has the potential to impact a company’s ability to hire, with 39% of those surveyed stating that a lack of AI training impacts their decisions to join a company, and 59% saying they take transparency around the use of AI into consideration when joining a new company.
“There are clear obstacles, with some employees harboring concerns about how their AI use could be perceived by peers and managers but employees can’t navigate this AI shift alone,” Srivastava said.
“They need clear guidelines to understand AI’s role in their functions, along with tailored training and accessible technologies to fully harness AI’s capabilities,” he said, adding that organisations that get this right will leverage AI in a way that unlocks new levels of human ingenuity.