Generative AI at Work Research Report

How many people are actually already using AI at Work? Discover insights from our recent survey on Generative AI tools in the workplace.
Daan van Rossum
Daan van Rossum
Founder & CEO, FlexOS
I founded FlexOS because I believe in a happier future of work. I write and host "Future Work," I'm a 2024 LinkedIn Top Voice, and was featured in the NYT, HBR, Economist, CNBC, Insider, and FastCo.
November 21, 2023
min read

The OpenAI and Sam Altman saga was one of the most debated in years. And for good reason: AI and the future of the companies bringing us these tools impact us all.

Knowing the massive impact AI will have on the future of work, we set out to understand how much knowledge workers are familiar with Generative AI tools, how often they use them, and which tools are most popular.

Leaders who want their teams to focus on what matters have shifted to AI early on to offload manual, repetitive tasks that can be easily automated. How about the rest? Read on...

Finding 1: Generative AI is widely adopted – especially among Gen Z and Millennials 

For a technology that was introduced less than a year ago, Generative AI has broad awareness and adoption. 

57% of all respondents use Generative AI tools at least monthly, and 40% use Generative AI at least once a week

Among Gen Z and Millennials, this increases to 71% using Generative AI at least once a month, and over half use it at least weekly

For knowledge workers not using Generative AI, some common reasons to not use AI include:

  1. Lack of Relevance and Necessity: Many respondents who don’t use Generative AI feel it’s irrelevant or unnecessary for their jobs, with sentiments like "my job doesn’t require it,” "no need for them with their current abilities,” and "I don’t know how they would help me with my job.”
  2. Workplace Restrictions and Unavailability: Responses such as "the company would rather not," "they haven't been introduced yet in our office," and "our organization doesn't use them at all.”
  3. Privacy and Trust Concerns: A notable number of responses express distrust or concern for privacy, highlighted by statements like "I don’t trust it to protect my privacy" and simply "I don't trust it."
  4. Personal Preference or Discomfort with AI: Phrases like "I like to think and create on my own," "I still prefer to do everything myself," and "I'm just not into AI yet" reflect a preference for manual work or discomfort with adopting AI.
  5. Regulatory or Legal Constraints: In healthcare and education, regulatory constraints are mentioned, like "I work in healthcare, and they say we aren’t allowed due to HIPAA" and "the school hasn't approved their use yet."

One respondent bravely answered, “We are just as smart or smarter than AI tools.” 
For many non-users we’ve surveyed, it’s unclear how they can benefit from Generative AI, even though users see significant benefits.  

We’ve covered before how a lack of availability of Generative AI in existing workplace software is one of the key barriers to AI adoption. Once Microsoft and others roll out their AI products in existing products, we’ll likely see a shift in adoption and sentiment.

This also means that companies can no longer stay behind, shared Amplify HR founder Lars Schmidt for this report:

“For the field of HR, the question is no longer *if* Generative AI will transform our world or even *when*. We're firmly in the *how* territory. With the release of GPTs, we no longer need to rely on HR tech vendors to build our GAI tools. We can develop them ourselves. That's why we need to roll up our sleeves now. The productivity we unlock and the value we can bring to our day-to-day leveraging generative AI is massive.” – Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify HR and best-selling author of “Redefining HR”
The quote of Lars Schmidt saying "The question is no longer *if* Generative Ai wil transform our world or even *when*. We're firmly in the *how* territory."

(Note: AI is developing rapidly. Take a look at our six must-know AI trends in 2024.)

Finding 2: ChatGPT is the undisputed leader in Generative AI

Even though ChatGPT launched only a year ago, it has the broadest awareness of all Generative AI tools. 

Amongst Generative AI users and non-users, 75% have heard of ChatGPT. This climbs to 81% of users and 84% amongst Gen Z and Millennial users. 

For a tool that’s only been in the market for a year, 75% awareness amongst all knowledge workers – of any age and industry – is incredible. 

Following with significant distance are Grammarly AI (35%), Google Bard (33%), and Microsoft Copilot (25%.)

Other tools that knowledge workers are familiar with are Adobe Firefly (23%), Copy.AI (15%), Dall-E (12%), Coda (9%), and Notion AI (9%).

Finding 3: ChatGPT is also the most used Generative AI tool

Among knowledge workers who actively use Generative AI tools, ChatGPT once again reigns supreme: 60% of active Gen AI users use ChatGPT at least weekly

OpenAI’s tool is followed by Google Bard (27%), Grammarly AI (19%), Microsoft Copilot (18%), Adobe Firefly (12%), and Copy.AI (12%.) 

While it’s interesting that Microsoft’s Copilot scores lower in usage than Bard and ChatGPT, we must remember that it only started rolling out to Enterprise users two weeks ago. 

Finding 4: Generative AI is making a highly positive impact on productivity

Employee productivity was one of the hottest topics 2023, especially because of the move towards remote work.

While data shows that most employees are more productive than ever, employers continue to stress about people’s efforts – leading to clashes between companies and teams. 

Enter Generative AI. One of the promised use cases is increased productivity, and knowledge workers actively using Generative AI say the technology is making good on this promise:

81% of Generative AI users say the technology has improved their productivity, including 43% who say it significantly improved it. Less than 1% say it decreased their productivity. 

Asked why Generative AI made them more productive, respondents answered that Gen AI makes their work more efficient, automates repetitive tasks, and improves work quality while doing that in an intuitive, easy-to-use way:

  1. Time Efficiency: Many responses shared that Generative AI has significantly reduced task time. Users mention that it helps them complete tasks faster, save time, and meet deadlines faster.
  2. Ease of Use and Understanding: The simplicity and user-friendly nature of Generative AI tools are highlighted as users find these tools easy to understand and use in their daily work.
  3. Increased Work Output and Efficiency: Generative AI has helped users to be more efficient in their work output. They share it helps manage multiple tasks simultaneously and improves overall work productivity.
  4. Automation of Tasks: Another recurring theme is the automation of tasks. Generative AI assists in automating repetitive tasks and processes, allowing users to focus on more important aspects of their work. 
  5. Improved Accuracy and Quality of Work: Users have noted an improvement in the accuracy and quality of their work, leading to better outcomes and more effective work processes.

Finding 5: Generative AI Automates Many Tasks at Work 

Knowledge workers who actively use Generative AI say it helps them with many of the most common tasks at work.

One in two say Gen AI helps them automate Email and Communication, and almost as many (45%) use it for Data Analysis and Reporting. 42% use Generative AI tools for research.

Content creation, often considered the main application of Generative AI, comes in fourth at 39% for writing and editing and 22% for design tasks

In all these applications, we have to remember just one year ago, Generative AI use was nil, and that adoption of this technology at these rates is an incredible feat. 

Finding 6: Generative AI Upskills Humans, Not Replace Them

Generative AI tools don’t just take over our work – they actively make us better.

Respondents share that using these tools has made them better at their jobs: 87% found that using Generative AI helped them develop new skills.

Of these, 63% say it has helped them develop creative and analytical skills, and 53% say it has helped them develop technical skills.  

Asana's Rebecca Hinds sees the promise of Generative AI following this finding:

"The significant majority of respondents saying that generative AI has helped them develop new skills stands out. To fully harness the potential of AI, it will take concerted effort—rigorous upskilling and reskilling programs, intentionality, and a strategic approach. But the promise is there. Generative AI could revolutionize our workspaces, transforming these tools from simple efficiency boosters to partners in our journey toward greater creativity and skill mastery." – Rebecca Hinds, PhD., Head of The Work Innovation Lab, Asana
A quote of Rebecca Hinds saying "Generative AI could revolutionize our workspaces, transforming these tools from simple efficiency boosters to partners in our journey toward greater creativity and skill mastery."

Finding 7: Users are Positive about the Role of Generative AI in the Future of their Profession

With all the scary headlines around job displacement, Generative AI users have a more optimistic view of a world with AI.

Asked how they perceive the role of generative AI in the future of their profession, 92% said they expect it to have a positive impact, with 46% saying it will have an extremely positive impact

A quote of Antony Slumbers saying "Generative AI is a huge enabler individual success"

Futurist Antony Slumbers sees these numbers as an indication that AI is here for good:

“Generative AI is a huge enabler of individual success. Born out by the 92% who think it will have a positive impact on their futures. This survey shows that whilst many are nervous, leaning in to this new technology is undoubtedly a force for good.” – Antony Slumbers, Work Futurist

In Conclusion

Some common narratives aside, more people are already using Generative AI tools than you might expect. 

With ChatGPT as the undisputed leader, Generative AI is helping people do their jobs faster and better, and most knowledge workers expect the tools to impact their future roles positively. 

From research to writing emails, Generative AI is becoming a key tool in the daily toolkit of employees across ages and industries.

A quote of Dr. Gleb Tsipursky saying "For remote and hybrid teams, generative AI's ability to streamline workflows and foster skill development is invaluable."

Especially for digitally minded and distributed companies, As Dr. Gleb Tsipursky shared for this report:

"The report shows how generative AI, epitomized by tools like ChatGPT, transforms the hybrid and remote work landscape. The report underscores a critical trend: these AI technologies are not only automating routine tasks but also enhancing workforce skills. For remote and hybrid teams, where efficiency and effective communication are paramount, generative AI's ability to streamline workflows and foster skill development is invaluable. This aligns seamlessly with the necessity for adaptive and innovative tools in the evolving work environment, especially as remote work challenges traditional productivity paradigms." – Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, WSJ-bestselling author and CEO of hybrid work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts.

About FlexOS:

FlexOS helps people-centric leaders stay ahead in the future of work. 

We support managers on AI, remote work, and future leadership through research and analysis, expert interviews, AI-powered tools, and more. 

FlexOS raised a $1 million seed round in 2022 from investors who previously backed startups, including Paypal, Dropbox, and Webflow.

About the study:

The survey was conducted through the Pollfish panel of 200 knowledge workers in the USA across all age ranges, seniorities, and industries. The survey ran in November 2023.

Respondents were invited using a double opt-in: they confirmed their interest, created a profile via a verification process, joined the respondent pool, and were invited to take the survey as they fit the targeting criteria.

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