In the Age of AI, How Can We Empower Everyone to Automate Work?

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Read more about author Rod Garcia.

From boosting efficiency to making data-driven decisions faster, the benefits of using AI and automation in the workplace are numerous. But understandably, there’s also plenty of apprehension among some team members. According to new research, around 80% of those who work in a digital setting and use AI say that it’s already improving their productivity. And yet, overall perceptions remain mixed, with 42% saying they’re excited for AI and automation to handle tasks from their current job, 31% neutral, and 27% concerned. 

With any new technology, uncertainty among some team members may exist before rapid adoption occurs. In order to successfully implement AI and automation tooling that provides a lasting and positive impact on the way people work, business leaders should address this apprehension head-on by establishing reliable guidance built on a foundation of empathy, trust, and empowerment. Here are three pieces of advice that other leaders can apply to their own implementation efforts, in a world where automation and AI are soon to be infused in the many different facets of our work.

Start with Empathy and Transparency

When it comes down to it, workplace tools are designed for people to use in the way that works for them, which is why you should approach the introduction of new AI and automation capabilities with your team members’ unique needs and concerns in mind.

Take the time to listen to your teams about their concerns and priorities, and use that feedback to shape your implementation strategy. For example, some of the common concerns about using AI in the workplace may include data privacy, job security, or the reliability and accuracy of its outputs. Establish a culture of trust within your organization so that team members can speak openly about their concerns or experiences with AI, and develop a mechanism to respond to and facilitate productive conversation about how you plan to address their comments.

You can then use those learnings to build a set of defined guidelines around AI usage within your company, backed with AI literacy materials and training that teach users both the technical and ethical aspects of using AI. According to the research mentioned above, people who work at companies that have defined AI guidelines are nearly six times more likely to have tried AI tools, compared with those whose companies have no guidelines around AI usage.

Highlight the Use Cases

The reason behind introducing a new workplace tool should always stem from a real team need. Consider how automation and AI tools can make team members’ work days run more smoothly so they can focus on more rewarding, high-level work. How does that differ across teams or lines of business? What does your sales function require and care about, versus your engineering and customer experience teams?

For example, the incident management process for engineering teams can be time-consuming and complex, with information and data scattered across various tools, video calls, and messaging platforms. All of this can slow down the speed to resolution. But with automation and AI incorporated into their processes, engineering teams can declare an incident, create an issue, create a record of the incident, find contextual information more quickly, and summarize key findings instantly – all just by clicking a button or setting up a single workflow.

By painting a clear picture of how these tools can improve and simplify your team members’ day to day and solve their unique needs, you’ll drive higher adoption and get to business outcomes and improved productivity faster.

Invest in Tools That Keep Humans at the Center 

There are varying levels of technical proficiency within any company – but no matter the expertise, products need to feel safe to the people using them. Choose user-friendly, intuitive tools that will appeal to both technical and non-technical team members. 

Additionally, trustworthy AI and automation tools should meet people where they are without getting in their way. This means they shouldn’t be cumbersome to use, they should surface when needed and recede when they’re not needed, and they should contribute to easing the cognitive load and helping people feel on top of the work day.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to adopting and implementing AI and automation tooling in the workplace. But during a time when so many companies are trying to squeeze these capabilities into all corners of their business, a measured approach that centers people’s unique experiences, their trust, and their core needs will always win out and move the needle towards more meaningful productivity.