Microsoft Study Reveals: Swiss Employees Eager to Delegate Tasks to Artificial Intelligence

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Highlights of the study include:

  • 59% of Swiss workers say they’ve struggled with having enough time and energy to get their work done as the pace of work and information overload accelerates
  • While 47% of Swiss workers say they’re worried AI will replace their jobs, 65% would delegate as much work as possible to AI in order to lessen their workloads
  • 79% of Swiss business leaders say employees will need new skills to be prepared for the growth of AI

Zurich, 9th May 2023. Microsoft’s 2023 Annual Work Trend Index reveals that 65% of Swiss employees would delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads. While 47% express concerns about AI replacing their jobs, nearly three in four would be comfortable using AI for analytical and creative tasks, in addition to administrative work.

The study surveyed 31,000 people in 31 countries, including around 1,000 in Switzerland, and analyzed trillions of aggregated productivity signals in Microsoft 365, as well as labor market trends on LinkedIn, to understand how AI will shape the future of work. The results show that the pace and volume of work have increased significantly, leaving many employees struggling with a lack of time and energy to innovate and think strategically. In Switzerland, 59% of workers reported this struggle, with 58% of leaders expressing concerns about a lack of innovation. Additionally, 69% of Swiss employees reported not having enough uninterrupted focus time during their workday.

“The platform shift to AI is underway and Microsoft is focused on responsibly creating AI that enables people to achieve greater productivity, growth, and satisfaction in the work they do. Our data shows that employees and business leaders are keen to embrace the opportunities that AI can create in their daily work lives,” said Catrin Hinkel, CEO Microsoft Switzerland. “Switzerland is exceptionally positioned to lead how new technologies like AI can transform businesses and solve some of society’s most pressing challenges. It is imperative that we continue to engage in open dialogue around AI while setting and maintaining high ethical standards for this technology.”

Despite concerns about job security, Swiss employees and leaders alike are looking to empower themselves with AI rather than replace human workers. Swiss managers are 1.5 times more likely to say they want to boost productivity with AI, rather than cut headcount, and employees know what’s in it for them. The promise of relief from digital debt and more time for impactful work outweighs the threat of AI taking over their jobs.

The study also highlights the need for new skills in the workforce, with 79% of Swiss leaders saying they will need to hire employees with new skills to be prepared for the growth of AI. 58% of Swiss workers say they currently lack the right capabilities to get their work done.

Based on these datapoints, the study revealed three key insights business leaders need to know now, as they look to responsibly adopt AI:

1.       Digital debt is costing us innovation:

  • 59% of Swiss workers say they’ve struggled with having enough time and energy to get their work done (vs. 64% of global workers).
    • These workers are 4.6x more likely to say they struggle with innovation and strategic thinking (vs. 3.5x for global workers).
  • More than half of Swiss leaders (58%) say they’re concerned about lack of innovation (vs. 60% of global leaders).
  • Only 29% of Swiss workers say they would be missed by colleagues in a majority of their meetings if they couldn’t join (vs. 35% of global workers).
  • 69% of Swiss workers agree they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus during their workday (vs. 68% of global workers).

The volume of data, emails and chats has outpaced our ability to process it all. Every minute spent managing this digital debt is a minute not spent on creative work. In a world where creativity is the new productivity, digital debt is more than an inconvenience – it’s impacting business.

69% of employees in Switzerland report they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time during their workday, meaning less time for deep thinking, creating and social collaboration. Nearly two in three people say they don’t have enough time and energy to do their job. And those same Swiss employees are 4.6 times more likely to struggle with innovation and strategic thinking.

2.       An unexpected AI-employee alliance emerges:

  • While 47% of Swiss workers say they’re worried AI will replace their jobs, a majority of 65% would delegate as much work as possible to AI in order to lessen their workloads (vs. 49% and 70% respectively for global workers).
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Swiss workers would be comfortable using AI not just for administrative tasks (71%) but also for analytical work (73%), and even creative aspects of their role (67%) (vs. 76%, 79%, and 73% respectively for global workers).
  • Swiss managers are 1.5x more likely to say that AI would provide value in the workplace by boosting productivity rather than cutting headcount (32% vs. 22%; 2x for global managers, 34% vs. 16%).

One of the predominant narratives around AI is the notion employees are fearful it may ultimately put them out of a job. While 47% of the respondents in Switzerland had some concerns about job security, a majority of 65% would still choose to delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads. Simply put: Employees know what’s in it for them, the promise of relief outweighs the threat. They envision using AI not just for administrative tasks, but also for analytical and creative work.

Microsoft’s data shows Swiss managers are 1.5 times more likely to say they’re looking to empower people with AI, rather than replace them. In fact, reducing headcount was last on their list. Their top hopes for AI? Increasing productivity, automating tasks, increasing employee well-being, and enabling employees to focus on impactful work.

3.       Work will demand a new AI aptitude:

  • 79% of Swiss leaders say employees they hire will need new skills to be prepared for the growth of AI (vs. 82% of global leaders).
  • 58% of Swiss workers say they don’t currently have the right capabilities to get their work done (vs. 60% of global workers).

AI will introduce an entirely new interaction model between humans and computers, and soon work won’t be the same without it. A platform shift this big will require new skilling – from prompt engineering to reimagining workflows with AI. 79% of Swiss leaders anticipate employees will need new skills in the AI era, and Microsoft is already seeing a 79% year-over-year increase in the number of LinkedIn job postings in the U.S. that reference “GPT” or “GAI” (generative artificial intelligence).

Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Pass

Microsoft has been testing Microsoft 365 Copilot with 20 enterprise customers since March. These companies include Chevron, Goodyear, General Motors, and Dow. The feedback from these companies is that Copilot has the potential to revolutionize work. They have also identified areas where Microsoft can do more to help people adapt to this new way of working, like the need for more conversational, prompt-based interactions. As Microsoft brings Copilot to more customers, they will continue to rely on this kind of feedback to refine Copilot and help guide users as they adapt to this new way of working. Microsoft today also announces the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Pass, a paid preview program that will roll out to an initial wave of 600 customers worldwide by invitation-only. Swiss customers are expected to get access later this calendar year.

The path forward

The platform shift to AI is underway, ushering in a new wave of productivity growth. And for both employees and leaders looking to bolster productivity, that promise can’t come soon enough. But AI will not simply “fix” work – it will create a whole new way of working. Leaders will need to help employees learn to work safely and responsibly alongside AI to reap the rewards of the employee-AI alliance: more value creation for businesses and a more fulfilling future of work for everyone.

Read the 2023 Annual Work Trend Index on WorkLab and visit the Microsoft 365 blog to learn more about these product innovations.

For all the blogs, videos, and assets related to today’s announcement, please visit our microsite.

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