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AI can ease ‘drudgery’ of repetitive tasks at work, says Microsoft report

9 May 2023

Microsoft released its report hailing AI as a saviour to busy people on the same day it made its AI-powered copilot available to more customers.

Microsoft has today (9 May) published a report that hails AI as a way of lifting “the burden” of work on employees.

The report, Will AI Fix Work?, is the latest in a series of annual workplace trends that Microsoft releases periodically.

It claims that “the platform shift to AI is underway” and that the tech “will completely transform the way people work”.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chair and CEO, pointed to AI as a way of removing what he called “the drudgery” of work such as emails and other repetitive tasks. The report referred to the burden of overcommunication and the need for people to use AI to automate boring but necessary tasks like scheduling meetings.

The publication of today’s report coincides with another AI-related announcement by Microsoft, however. The announcement relates to the company’s own product, Microsoft 365 Copilot, which it is bringing to more customers from today.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is an AI-powered suite that automates office and workplace tasks. It was launched in March.

The accompanying text to its trend report on AI in the workplace used language that promoted the idea that AI copilots can help boost productivity.

“To date, AI has mostly been on autopilot. Now, next-generation copilots will work alongside people, freeing us from digital debt and fuelling innovation. Organisations that embrace AI will unleash creativity and unlock productivity for everyone—ushering in a new wave of productivity growth and value creation,” the post said.

Digital debt can be eased by AI

Microsoft did, however, conduct an expansive survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries to inform its report.

The survey found that people are carrying digital debt in the workplace, leading to burnout and fatigue and loss of innovation.

Nearly two in three people (64pc) say they struggle with having the time and energy to do their job—and those people are more likely to struggle with strategic thinking.

And nearly two in three leaders (60pc) are already feeling the effects, saying that a lack of innovation or breakthrough ideas on their teams is a concern.

The average worker spends more than half of their working time communicating across various different platforms. Microsoft claims AI can reclaim a lot of this time for deep work.

And the findings also indicate that many people are actually okay with using AI to do parts of their jobs that they either don’t have time to do or don’t want to do.

Almost half (49pc) of people said they were worried AI will replace their jobs, but a greater percentage – 70pc – said they would delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads.

A majority of respondents also believe that AI can help them boost their creativity and editing skills.

As well as Microsoft, other companies are constantly releasing AI features and tools for workers. LinkedIn said recently that it was rolling out generative AI profile writing and editing tools for Premium users.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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