There’s a popular perception out there that most people, particularly office workers, are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) is coming for their jobs. After all, more and more simple tasks in the workplace have become automated — from daily reminders to finding and editing electronic documents. But are the office workers themselves truly worried that robots will take away jobs? Simply put: no.
In our new report The Future of Work: More than a Machine, we surveyed more 4,000 office workers across the U.S., U.K., and Germany and asked them about how technology is changing their jobs, especially advanced technology like AI, and how confident they feel about keeping their jobs in the future.
The study suggests that instead of being anxious about technology taking over their jobs, office workers are optimistic about how it can boost productivity and work for them.
We’re here to stay
Humans don’t feel like they’re just a cog in a machine. In fact, according to the study, office workers are confident that they’ll continue to matter in the workplace, despite technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate. Specifically, around two-thirds of office workers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany believe that their job requires human abilities that tech will never replace (66 percent in U.S., 68 percent in the U.K. and 60 percent Germany).
But there’s still some anxiety. Only about 30 percent of U.S. and German office workers and 19 percent of U.K. office workers feel very equipped to succeed in a technology-rich workplace of the future.
The bottom line is that office workers are open to change, but they want to be prepared. As long as employees adopt a learn-it-all mindset and companies design intuitive, user-centric tools, technology and work should evolve together.
Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto
Office workers also told us that, instead of technology disconnecting people, it’s actually strengthening human relationships. An overwhelming majority of respondents in all three markets said that technology helps them connect better with coworkers (82 percent in the U.S., 73 percent of in the U.K. and Germany).
And these respondents think the ability to work together is something that will only improve — eight in 10 said that office workers of the future will be better collaborators.
There’s nothing artificial about intelligence
Not surprisingly, we found that office workers rely on technology to get their work done, and they want AI to help with simple administrative tasks. Seventy-two percent of U.S. office workers, 76 percent of those in Germany, and 66 percent of workers in the U.K. are interested in using intelligent personal assistants that use voice, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to search the internet or make to-do lists. The areas they want help with include reminders for tasks and appointments (49 percent of respondents in the U.S., 46 percent in the U.K., and 26 percent in Germany), as well as finding or editing electronic documents (25 percent in U.S, 28 percent in the U.K., and 26 percent in Germany).
While they’re ready to let AI perform those kinds of simple tasks, it seems that office workers aren’t using advanced technology to its full potential. According to the study, a small percentage of office workers are interested in having AI help them with creative recommendations or serve up inspiring content for writing or design tasks (18 percent in the U.S., 16 percent in the U.K., and 20 percent in Germany).
We can expect this to change in the near future, as companies stretch AI in ways we never even imagined. Since AI is ultimately designed to make our lives easier, workers should be asking themselves how AI can free them from menial, administrative tasks so they can be more productive and innovative. Look at it this way: AI may soon be able to work for you as a consultant rather than as an assistant — doing things like charting out your career path based on your current role and aspirations.
Needless to say, it will be fascinating to see how our jobs and the jobs around us change as AI comes of age.
Jeff Vijungco is the VP of Employee Experience at Adobe.