UK lags behind US on AI adoption at work

UK office workers are lagging behind their American counterparts when it comes to adopting AI in the workplace, research has revealed.

Nearly half (46%) of US office workers now use AI at least once weekly in their roles, compared with just 29% in the UK, according to research by software company Asana’s Work Innovation Lab.

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In June, prime minister Rishi Sunak declared his intention to make the UK the home of AI safety, pledging to make London the next Silicon Valley, but it seems British workers are less confident about the technology.

Nearly a third (30%) of Brits said they thought they would be seen as lazy if they used AI at work, compared with just 20% of American workers.

British workers’ reluctance to US AI was shared by leaders too, as companies in the US were nearly twice as likely to offer their employees training on AI.

More than a fifth (22%) of the American companies polled offered training with AI tools, compared with 13% of those in the UK.

Angelina Gentili, head of people operations, at Personio said HR leaders have a duty to help employees transition to a future with more AI in work, including providing the right training.

Speaking to HR magazine, Gentili said: "As a first priority, HR must communicate about how AI will be used in the workplace to help improve confidence and transparency and to create a platform for employees to raise any concerns they may have. 

"Next, it’s important for HR to support business leaders in identifying the areas that could benefit from AI and digitalisation to help streamline inefficiencies."

Policies around data and privacy will be vital in this process, she added, and businesses should evaluate their stance on how AI tools are used. 

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“We are moving into a new phase of AI’s role in our workplaces,” said Saket Srivastava, chief information officer at Asana. 

“However, there are clear obstacles, with some employees harbouring concerns about how their AI use could be perceived by peers and managers. 

“Employees can’t navigate this AI shift alone. They need clear guidelines to understand AI's role in their functions, along with tailored training and accessible technologies to fully harness AI's capabilities. 

“Organisations that get this right will leverage AI in a way that unlocks new levels of human ingenuity.” 

Asana's The State of AI at Work report is based on the views of over 4,546 workers in the US and UK, with more than 2,000 in the UK.

The survey for the report was undertaken in July 2023.