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Are workers making the most of AI?

• 69% of workers not using AI

• 1 in 3 workers doubt the presence of AI in the future of work

• Only 8% of people who have used AI at work are self-employed/freelance

One of the most jaw-dropping AI statistics revealed by our survey is that 7 in 10 (69%) of workers have not used AI to support their tasks at work.

While the news is filled with stories about AI platforms and how their weekly users continue to grow consistently, it seems there are still many people in the UK not using AI regularly at work.

Despite one study finding that generative AI tools could improve employee productivity by 66%, the majority of workers are reluctant to incorporate them into their everyday workstreams. 

This could suggest that more people need to learn how to use AI tools to their advantage at work, regardless of the industry they work in. With AI tools effectively functioning as personal assistants, there are countless ways to use them to your benefit at work.

“We work with thousands of small businesses on digital marketing campaigns in SEO, PPC and Social Media and to see that 7 in 10 people are still not using AI tools at work is surprising. We’re beginning to use these tools for organisation, data analysis and other administrative tasks that could be saving people valuable time in their busy schedules.

While not everyone will have the time to experiment with ChatGPT, there are plenty of great resources to get started with building prompts. As the technology advances, it may be harder to catch up if you’re not trialling now.”

– Peter Marshall, Chief Marketing Officer

Amid reports of ChatGPT experiencing a fall in users for several months in a row, our survey reveals that 2 in 5 (38%) workers believe they are likely to use AI tools in the future.

However, a third of respondents feel like AI in the workplace is neither likely nor unlikely, suggesting that, despite hundreds of thousands using these tools monthly, their workplace applications are not yet apparent to a large portion of the working population.

The age of respondents has some impact on their perceptions of the future of AI in the workplace. 

58% of respondents who believe they are likely to use AI at work were aged between 18 and 44.

On the other hand, 66% of respondents who see AI as an unlikely addition to their jobs were aged 45 and up.

Additionally, 35-44 is the most common age group to use AI.

How much do we trust AI?

• 2 in 5 workers don’t trust AI

• Older generations 23% more likely to distrust AI “a lot”

• Women 19% more likely to distrust AI than men

With trust being a major issue in how AI tools will be implemented at work, it’s interesting to see that 2 in 5 people distrust AI in the UK right now. If we’re to begin using these tools to generate content, analyse data and solve problems, they need to be trustworthy.

 

“Trust is so important online and, with the presence of deepfakes and AI images, it’s not surprising to see trust in this new technology is low across the board. AI is supposed to be a time-saver and verifying everything it creates won’t allow you to use it to the best of its ability. For this reason, it’s important to understand its limitations and find ways of using it in a way you can trust.

In our own use of AI, we’ve found that some tools generate false quotes or statements without clarifying that they have been generated. Creating prompts that produce trustworthy, reliable responses is a key factor in AI use and is something that workers will need more training to understand if these tools are to become a staple of the office.”

– Damon Culbert, Digital PR Manager

 

Distrust is higher in women, with women making up 66% of respondents choosing distrust. However, women are also more likely to have used AI tools at work without telling their boss, maybe due to a lower level of confidence in the reliability of the tools.

Older generations also report higher levels of distrust, with 55% of over 65’s distrusting these tools and 13% trusting. Conversely, 40% of 25-34 year olds reportedly trust AI tools while 27% distrust. 30% of all respondents said they neither trust nor distrust AI.

How will AI affect work?

• Half of workers think AI will have no significant impact on work

• 25-34 age range most likely to expect positive impact from AI

• Men 24% more likely to expect a positive change from AI

In addition to AI not seeing broad adoption at work just yet, half (53%) of respondents don’t feel that AI will have a significant impact positively or negatively on the way they work.

 

 

While slightly more people believe AI will have a positive impact (26% over 20%), the general perception is that most things about work will be unchanged. As some decision-makers claim “Why would we employ people?” Those actually at work don’t seem to see the utopian promise of ChatGPT.

 

 

32% of men said they believe AI will have a positive impact on their work, with 24% of these stating AI would have a very positive effect. This is in contrast to just 4% of women who said the same. The most common answer for women was that AI would have neither a positive nor a negative effect on their work, which 56% of women believe.

Are companies officially adopting AI tools?

• Only 14% of people say their company has an official AI policy

• 1 in 3 workers use AI tools without their manager knowing

• Women more likely to keep AI use hidden from their boss

• Workers aged 25-45 most likely to keep AI use from manager

With only 1 in 10 workplaces regulating the use of AI tools, it’s no surprise that 1 in 3 workers are using tools like ChatGPT without their manager knowing.

The most likely group to keep their AI use from managers is aged between 25 and 44, while only 13% of respondents over 55 said they kept AI use to themselves.

Though most of us are open enough with our superiors to share when we’re using generative AI software like ChatGPT or Bard, business owners and managers may want to consider laying down some ground rules about how it should be used at work.

Women were more likely to keep AI use to themselves (57% vs 42% of respondents) and were also more likely to work in businesses with no official AI implementation.

With some studies finding that women are 80% more likely to lose their jobs to generative AI, it’s clear why distrust is higher and use isn’t disclosed as often. As we predict generative AI will be much more prevalent in many industries over the next few years, it’s vital that regulation to protect workers, especially those who are most significantly at risk, is implemented and used in a way that still supports innovation.

 

Only 14% of people said their company currently had an official AI policy, which could be contributing to a higher level of distrust of these tools.

With a recent study finding that 60% of people would like regulation of AI in the workplace, it’s important for business owners and decision-makers to consider how AI will impact their staff and ensure staff welfare and security are prioritised.

 

“AI should be something we all use to supplement our productivity and deal with the grunt work but we don’t see it replacing anyone’s jobs just yet. With so many people wary of its implementation and studies demonstrating the threat it could potentially pose, regulation will be important.

This study has opened our eyes to the way in which workers use AI right now and we’ll certainly be considering how we might need to officially implement tools and policies to ensure AI is being used effectively in our office.”

– Peter Marshall, Chief Marketing Officer

How will AI operate in the workplace?

“AI should be used as a helpful tool, not an essential crutch. When calculators were first invented, mathematicians no doubt thought they were like cheat codes and resisted using them at first. However, you’ll struggle to find a finance department that doesn’t use a calculator daily now.

Services like ChatGPT shouldn’t be doing it all themselves. If you’re a half-decent writer, you’ll write an article that puts AI to shame. However, it doesn’t have to be that black and white; to use AI for everything, or nothing. Instead, use it as a time-saving device, a way to get a second opinion, an idea generator for a paragraph you’re stuck on, etc.

As mathematicians adapted to the calculator, writers should adapt to the AI. Just make sure you’re in the driving seat.”

– Jack Bird, Content Operations Manager

Though tools like ChatGPT are being used by hundreds of thousands each month, they are still underutilised in the workplace right now. With 70% of respondents saying they don’t use AI tools at work at all, fears of AI taking millions of jobs may not be a reality any time soon.

However, the newness of the technology is clearly creating uncertainty in its general perception, with many of our respondents believing these tools will have little impact on their working lives and 2 in 5 distrusting the software.

As the UK sets its sights on being a major player in the world of AI, more will need to be done to ensure AI is used effectively and reliably in work to improve trust and expand use for people in all industries.

Methodology

The survey was conducted by OnePoll between the 1st and 7th September 2023 with 2,000 respondents. The survey asked 6 questions about perceptions of AI use in the workplace, as well as AI habits of UK workers.

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