Senior managers favour humans over machines when it comes to decision making.

Office workers say AI could replace human jobs.

A new study from Headspring, an executive development joint venture of the Financial Times and IE Business School, has found two in five (39 per cent) UK office workers surveyed believe AI could replace their jobs, despite 58 per cent of those in senior management positions or above saying they trust human decision making over machines. The online research, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of Headspring, surveyed 2,010 UK office workers to unveil exactly what they think about the advances in AI technology in relation to their jobs. In comparison, the study also looked at how business leaders think AI will change roles to see if employers and employees have the same expectations.

Although 84 per cent of UK office workers surveyed don’t use any kind of AI in their current role, more than a third (38 per cent) think introducing the technology into the workplace will mean their job has to change. Similarly, nearly one in four (22 per cent) think the technology will reduce the number of people in their department.

When it comes to trusting decisions made by machines, around half (51 per cent) of office workers surveyed nationally say they would be more likely to trust decisions made in relation to their current job by humans more than AI, with just over a quarter (26 per cent) claiming to be likely to trust decisions made by both AI and humans equally.

On the other side of the spectrum, UK office workers surveyed did have some positive things to say about introducing AI into the workplace, with two in five (39 per cent) saying they think the technology would help to improve the quality of their work, and more than one in five (22 per cent) claiming it would make their work more accurate.

The top five jobs UK office workers think AI could do a more accurate job than a human are:

1.       Data handling (59 per cent)

2.       Financial forecasting (42 per cent)

3.       IT (35 per cent), accounting/managing finances (35 per cent)

4.       Productivity management (24 per cent)

5.       Communications (17 per cent)

One in four (23 per cent) office workers surveyed say AI would make them more productive in their roles, while 16 per cent most closely associate artificial intelligence with ‘better decision making’.

Looking to the future, when asked to imagine that their current company was to implement AI systems that they’d need to use, 60 per cent of office workers surveyed say they feel unprepared to use AI in their current role in the next 12 months, and nearly two thirds (63 per cent) don’t think their employer will be ready to adopt AI systems in the next 12 months either. Despite the general feeling of having a long way to go before using AI in the workplace, the data shows a generational divide in opinion with 24 per cent of 25-to-34-year-olds surveyed feeling prepared to use AI systems as part of their current role, in comparison to 21 per cent of those aged 45-54 and just 17 per cent of those above the age of 55.

“It’s interesting to see the contrast in opinion among the office workforce and business leaders,” said Headspring’s CEO Gustaf Nordbäck. “While so many employees seem to be concerned about their roles with the introduction of AI, those in more senior roles are anticipating the benefits it can bring. It’s reassuring for workers to see that those in senior positions believe they will rely on humans over machines, demonstrating how AI can be harnessed alongside human decision making, rather than replacing it.”

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