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Australians lead in AI adoption but training lacks
Fri, 1st Mar 2024

New research from Slack in collaboration with Workforce Lab reveals a rising trend in the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools. However, gaps in training and support for these tools persist. The study explored AI productivity and trends in the work environment, assessing how office workers are utilising AI, the impact it has on their work time, and the attitudes of leaders towards AI adoption.

The study found that Australians have the highest global adoption rate of AI tools, standing at 35% compared to the global average of 26%. Australian professionals are keen on seeing more AI integration to assist in performing low-value or repetitive tasks. About 47% of Australian professionals admitted that their workdays were spent on tasks that don’t significantly contribute to their core job functions - a figure well above the global average of 41%.

Moreover, 60% of executives in Australia reported a high sense of urgency towards implementing AI, exceeding the global average by 10%. Yet, Australian employees were less likely than their global counterparts to report receiving AI guidance from their leaders. This number stood at only 35% in Australia, compared to the global average of 43%.

Workforce Lab's study found a strong uptake of AI among employees of companies that had issued guidelines for AI usage. These employees were six times more likely to have experimented with AI tools as compared to those working in companies without any guidelines on AI usage.

"It’s encouraging to see that the majority of desk workers surveyed around the world who are using AI and automation tools are already starting to experience productivity gains. The findings show the benefits for top executives to be increasing effectiveness and productivity, innovation of products and services, and cost reduction,” says Christina Janzer, Head of Slack's Workforce Lab and Slack SVP of Research & Analytics at Salesforce.

However, Janzer drew attention to a gap between the perceived importance of AI by top executives and the way employees feel it is being integrated into their roles. Furthermore, about 48% of Australian desk workers echoed their excitement about the potential of AI to replace certain aspects of their current jobs, most notably low-value and repetitive tasks, which are currently taking up about 47% of their work time. They nominated writing assistance, automation and summarisation as the tasks that would benefit the most from AI augmentation.

Janzer added, "If the average desk worker is spending two full days each week on this work of work, that's a problem - and an opportunity for AI and automation tools to recalibrate our energy towards the activities that will move the needle.”

Furthermore, the study identified potential areas for AI assistance in the future, beyond current capabilities. These include managing excessive paperwork and updating systems and files, which are deemed as low-value tasks that most desk workers don’t see a lot of value in.

The survey was conducted from January 10 to January 29, 2024, with 10,281 respondents from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of whom were full-time employees in a range of sectors.