Workers look to AI to improve productivity and work/life balance

Perception of falling productivity and lack of IT support drives interest in new technology, survey finds
Tony O'Malley, CEO, Fujitsu Ireland

17 December 2018

A recent survey has found that despite a strong perception among workers that they are working just as hard (45%), or harder (47%), than they were two years ago, almost as many (40%) believe their actual productivity has stalled or declined.

The Fujitsu survey was carried out by Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) among employees of more than 600 medium and large businesses from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Nordics, Spain and the UK, in September and October 2018.

It found that not only are people struggling to maintain productivity, but almost half of employees (46%) believe their current workplace is failing to have a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of people with core skills.

In the face of these challenges, more than 80% of participants believe that artificial intelligence (AI), in applications such as digital virtual assistants or personalised and adaptive user experiences, will have a positive effect on their working lives. This perception is not limited to digital native employees, as the survey found the outlook is shared by both entry-level and more experienced workers.

Longer hours
As longer working hours become the norm for more workers, they are looking for ways to achieve a better balance between work and personal lives, which more than half (53%) believe can be accomplished by flexible working hours and practices, which they regard as “very important” in enhancing productivity. However, more than a third (35%) rate their employer’s ability to support a good work/life balance as only adequate or poor. A stimulating and healthy working environment was a close second (49%), with access to the right productivity tools also named by 40% as the most important factors in their effectiveness.

“In light of the ESRI’s recent findings related to stress in the workplace,” said Tony O’Malley, CEO, Fujitsu Ireland, “it is very encouraging to see that Irish employees are now ready and willing to embrace the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to tackle this. Although technology can impact negatively on employees’ ability to strike a healthy work/life balance through the blurring of our private and corporate lives, it may also be the solution. Artificial Intelligence and productivity tools have been identified as key to improving this as at a time when people are working harder than ever. We are focused on helping realise business outcomes while driving a wider impact on society, and delivering tangible value for customers.”

Maximising productivity
“The survey findings show that many of today’s workplaces and working practices still prevent employees from maximising their productivity,” said Nick Mayes, research lead and principal analyst, PAC.

“Businesses must focus on effective practices by getting their data and processes in order and making it easier for employees to access the information they need, when and where they need it. With these fundamentals and the right technology in place, the possibilities for enhancing productivity are endless, from providing adaptive experiences based on context and location, to intelligent assistance and a highly-personalised service for each individual. And these are key factors that help ensure the retention of top talent, in a highly competitive market,” said Mayes.

Fujitsu said that in the near future, it expects workers to place a greater emphasis on the ability to effectively blend personal and work life. As AI, machine learning and robotic process automation technologies become more widely adopted, people will expect basic processes from their employers, such as onboarding activities and seamless service request automation.

Enterprises that succeed in delivering this balance, it asserts, will ultimately be will be able to address the challenges of productivity and will win the war for talent, by attracting and retaining skilled employees.


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