AI to the rescue

The pace of work is outpacing our ability to keep up. AI is poised to create a whole new way of working, according to a new report from Microsoft. 

We’re all carrying digital debt: the inflow of data, emails, meetings, and notifications has outpaced humans’ ability to process it all. And the pace of work is only intensifying. Everything feels important, so we spend our workdays trying to get out of the red. 

A new report from software giant Microsoft, based on a survey of more than 31,000 people in 31 countries, and analysing trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals, along with labour trends from the LinkedIn Economic Graph, suggests that organisations that embrace AI will unleash creativity and unlock productivity for everyone—ushering in a new wave of productivity growth and value creation. 

The report reveals three key trends that business leaders need to take note of: digital debt is costing us innovation; employees increasingly view AI as an ally; all employees need AI aptitude. 

“Employees need to build AI aptitude to embrace a new world of working with AI as a copilot,” says Aliya Nazarkasimova, Director, Modern Work, Central Europe at Microsoft.  

“We found that it’s essential that employees learn when to leverage AI, how to write great prompts, how to evaluate creative work, and how to check for bias.” 

Worldwide, nearly two in three people (64 per cent) say they struggle with having the time and energy to do their job—and those people are three and a half times more likely to also struggle with innovation and strategic thinking. In Poland, workers are more than four times more likely to struggle with innovation and creative thinking. 

At the same time, sixty per cent of business leaders around the world are already feeling the effects, saying that a lack of innovation or breakthrough ideas on their teams is a concern. For Central Europe the figures are only slightly lower: 56 per cent in Czechia and 51 per cent in Poland. 

AI, the workers’ ally 

Amid broad concerns of AI replacing jobs, the Microsoft report reveals an unexpected insight: employees are more eager for AI to lift the weight of work than they are afraid of job loss to AI.  

Globally, while 49 per cent of people say they’re worried AI will replace their jobs, even more—70 per cent—would delegate as much work as possible to AI in order to lessen their workloads. 

Although in Central Europe these figures are slightly lower, they are in keeping with the global trend that no longer views AI as a threat but as a potential ally. 

In Czechia, 34 per cent of workers fear AI replacing them, while in Poland the figure is 45 per cent. Nevertheless, 59 per cent of Czechs would be happy delegating to AI, as would 61 per cent of Poles. 

The advantages for employees who embrace AI can be significant and positively impactful, and employers should offer the tools their employees need, Nazarkasimova believes. 

“Our research shows that employees are thinking about how they can benefit from using AI in all kinds of work – the administrative, but also the analytical and even creative aspects – so leaders must seize this moment to equip teams with the tools and resources needed to thrive in an AI-powered future.” 

And the AI optimism doesn’t stop there. Almost two thirds of workers in Central Europe believe it can enhance creativity, from formulating ideas for their work to editing their work. It appears that the more people understand AI, the more they see its promise to help with the most meaningful parts of their jobs. For example, 87 per cent of workers in creative roles who are extremely familiar with AI said they’d be comfortable using AI for creative aspects of their job. 

AI aptitude 

Nevertheless, the paradigm shift to AI as copilot requires a whole new way of working—and a new AI aptitude.  

The report suggests that working alongside AI—using natural language—will be as inherent to how we work as the internet and the PC.  

Skills like critical thinking and analytical judgment, complex problem solving, and creativity and originality are new core competencies—and not just for technical roles or AI experts. Leaders are already aware of this: 82 per cent globally and more than 77 per cent in Central Europe. 

The flipside is that more than half of people do not feel that currently have the necessary skills. AI will open new paths for learning, but success depends on leaders equipping employees for an AI-powered future. 

“While most employees are ready to embrace AI in the workplace, our research also revealed some concerns about what it will mean for their industry and their jobs,” Nazarkasimova tells Emerging Europe

“That’s why it’s important to build trust and ensure AI systems are designed with ethics, fairness, and inclusivity in mind. We feel a profound sense of responsibility to get this right. If we lead with transparency and ensure humans are at the centre of every decision, we can use this technology to create a more promising future for everyone.” 

This article is part of Digital Future of CEE, a regional discussion series, powered by Emerging Europe, Microsoft and PwC.

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