Staff want meaningful tasks to fill time saved by tech

Workers don’t want their days filled with boring tasks to merely occupy the hours saved by chatbots and automated email.

Nine in 10 workers say feeling happy and engaged at work is key to their productivity, according to research released by tech firm Slack on Tuesday.

People in sales, marketing and customer service were keen to adopt artificial intelligence and automation to get their job done.

The survey of 2000 Australian desk workers found the technology was saving each employee 3.3 hours per week.

Slack’s Asia-Pacific technology evangelist Derek Laney told AAP it is not about replacing people with machines.

Automation at work is about making time for the important face-to-face moments for making a sale or understanding an insurance claim.

For example, an employee might spend hours cutting and pasting to craft a perfect email, which remembers everything said last time and follows up.

But AI could generate the history of the customer and do a first draft in moments, using a type of automation known as “human in the loop”.

Rather than ending human interaction, generative AI is about trying to use all the information available so that workers can more quickly reach the point of making a decision or solving a problem, Mr Laney said.

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents said automating routine tasks would greatly improve their productivity, as well as their happiness.

However, workers said they were spending almost one-third (32 per cent) of their time on so-called “performative work” – endless emails and meetings that prove they are on task.

“Time sitting around in a room where I’m not contributing anything, I didn’t really learn anything, I’m just there to show up,” Mr Laney said.

Less than half (45 per cent) of respondents said their workplace has adopted automation to make processes easier or more efficient.

Mr Laney said to improve productivity we must move our culture to something called “working in the open”.

“Which means we use platforms – digital technology – to allow us to see the work as it happens, rather than a meeting or relying on someone to send a weekly update on Friday,” he said.

“That’s our accountability – the fact that we’re working in the open.”


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)


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