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NextGen Magazine


Survey: Use of AI Tools by Desk Workers Rose by 24% Last Quarter

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Feb 28, 2024

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the workplace increased by 24 percent in the last quarter, with one in four desk workers reporting they have those tools for work as of January 2024, as compared with one in five as of September 2023. research by the Workforce Lab from Slack found.

Christina Janzer, Slack’s senior vice president of research and analytics at and head of Slack’s Workforce Lab, said that the growth of the use of AI last quarter was more than she expected, Fast Company reported.

“In 2023, we talked a lot about the promise of AI, but we were seeing low adoption rates throughout 2023,” she said. “We didn’t see any uptick last year, so the fact that we went up from 20 percent to 25 percent is a big deal in my mind. But it’s also a reminder that we’re still very early in this AI journey. We’re still figuring it out. We still have a lot of work to do.” 

Of those who have used AI and automation tools for work, around 80 percent said that this technology is already improving their productivity. The top tasks where desk workers are seeing the most value from AI today are for writing assistance, automating workflows, summarizing content and research to learn about new topics, the survey found. Summaries replaced research as a top source of added value in the respondents’ current work since Slack’s September 2023 survey.

Desk workers reported spending 41 percent of their time at work on tasks that are low value or repetitive, or that lack meaningful contribution to their core job functions, the survey found. And the more time they spend on such work, the more enthusiasm they expressed for AI and automation to handle tasks from their current job. 

Eighty-one percent of the executives surveyed said that they feel a level of urgency to integrate AI tools into their organizations, citing benefits such as increased efficiency and productivity of employees, innovation of products and services, data-driven decision making, and cost reductions. Their concerns included data security and privacy, AI reliability and accuracy, and lack of expertise and skill gap among staff.

Around 80 percent of employees reported that the technology is already improving their productivity, but 27 percent said that they are concerned about these tools handling common workplace tasks.

While 43 percent of desk workers have not received guidance on how to use AI tools at work, the survey reported, those at companies with clear AI guidelines are nearly six times more likely to have experimented with AI tools.

“The majority of people who are using AI and automation are already starting to experience productivity gains,” said Janzer in the report. “But the data [indicate] 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.”

Slack surveyed 10,281 workers in the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom between Jan. 10 and Jan. 29, 2024. The survey was administered by Qualtrics and did not target Slack or Salesforce employees or customers. The methodology sections states, "Respondents were all desk workers, defined as employed full-time (30 or more hours per week) and either having one of the roles listed below or saying they 'work with data, analyze information or think creatively': executive management (e.g. president/partner, CEO, CFO, C-suite), senior management (e.g. executive VP, senior VP), middle management (e.g. department/group manager, VP), junior management (e.g. manager, team leader), senior staff (i.e. nonmanagement), skilled office worker (e.g. analyst, graphic designer)."