Recent workplace data has ignited a discussion on the potential influence of artificial intelligence (AI) on collaboration and knowledge sharing within organizations. Content-generating robots, like ChatGPT, offer numerous valuable applications for society, but the question arises – where should the line be drawn when it comes to deploying these tools in the workplace?

SINTEF, in collaboration with Knowit consultants, conducted a recent study, which involved extensive interviews with employees in technology and digitalization-focused enterprises. The study unveiled two consistent trends in how AI is being integrated into work environments.

Balancing Benefits: The Positive Side of AI Assistance

One notable observation from the research is that individuals who actively employ ChatGPT often delegate monotonous and repetitive tasks to the AI. This practice is generally perceived as harmless and, in fact, beneficial. According to these employees, relieving the robot of mundane tasks lightens their workload, leading to enhanced efficiency and motivation, and ultimately resulting in more meaningful workdays.

The Dilemma: Overreliance on AI for Information

Conversely, the study’s second finding raises concerns. Some employees have begun to turn to ChatGPT for work-related inquiries, citing ease of interaction as a primary reason. They argue that the robot consistently provides polite and prompt responses, rendering human colleagues comparatively less appealing as sources of information.

While this trend may seem innocuous at first glance, it sparks questions about the impact of AI on workplace collaboration and knowledge sharing. What happens when employees increasingly opt for AI-driven assistance over seeking guidance from their human counterparts?

The Call for Further Research

The researchers emphasize the necessity for additional investigation into this matter. Sven Størmer Thaulow, Director of Data and Technology at Schibsted, has highlighted an important aspect: ChatGPT relies on American language models that inherently carry American values, which may not always align with the principles governing working life in Norway.

Moreover, the study reveals that generative artificial intelligence significantly impacts both young and experienced employees, showcasing the widespread adoption of AI tools, regardless of experience levels.

The tasks delegated to ChatGPT in the research span a broad spectrum, from automating repetitive text generation and overcoming writer’s block to efficient document compilation. This technology has demonstrated its capacity to expedite these tasks, significantly reducing the time required for their completion.

Learning and Assistance from ChatGPT

Another category of tasks centers around “Questions we ask ChatGPT,” often linked to learning and knowledge acquisition. Some employees favor ChatGPT over human colleagues to avoid bothering them with questions. They have sought assistance even when they were unsure about the questions to ask, as the AI can help formulate queries.

However, the researchers caution that there may be potential drawbacks to this practice. Research has indicated that assisting colleagues facing challenges contributes to increased work satisfaction. The study underscores the concern that senior colleagues might find it disheartening to be sidelined in favor of AI-powered solutions for work-related problems.

This concern highlights the importance of conducting further research to understand the implications of robots assuming roles that were traditionally fulfilled by human mentors, including senior colleagues. Striking a balance between the advantages of AI assistance and preserving human collaboration remains a critical imperative as organizations integrate AI into the workplace.

By Impact Lab