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June 9, 2024

What Employees Aren’t Telling Their Bosses About AI At Work

If you use generative AI at work to draft a job description or an important sales email, do you tell anyone? And perhaps more revealing—do you think your employees will? Microsoft released a widely cited report last week that examines workers’ attitudes about their use of AI, and one of the most interesting findings was a sheepishness, […]

If you use generative AI at work to draft a job description or an important sales email, do you tell anyone? And perhaps more revealing—do you think your employees will?

Microsoft released a widely cited report last week that examines workers’ attitudes about their use of AI, and one of the most interesting findings was a sheepishness, or nervousness, that employees appear to have about admitting they use the technology. Just over half of those who use AI at work—52%—say they’re reluctant to reveal they use it on their most important tasks, and about the same number worry divulging that information makes them look replaceable, according to the latest Work Trend Index from Microsoft and LinkedIn.

It’s an interesting dynamic that managers will need to navigate as they try to get people to adopt AI. On the one hand, you need to show people using it to encourage its use—and reap the productivity gains AI supposedly promises. Yet people aren’t always going to want to share that they’re using it to do key tasks out of fear it’ll look like they’re not needed. Why promote you’re doing something that doesn’t give you credit?

Though the report comes from Microsoft, which clearly hopes you’ll buy and use its AI products, the tech giant also has access to data that offer a revealing look at the impact AI is having on workers’ use of its email, software tools and time spent in meetings. Combined with a survey of some 31,000 full-time workers, LinkedIn hiring and career data and the software usage data, the report is chock full of nuggets of info. One of the most interesting: More than three-quarters of workers, the report says, are turning to their own AI tools, such as ChatGPT’s publicly available AI, rather than company-provided ones. They’re bringing their own AI to work, or as Microsoft calls it, “BYOAI.”

If all that talk of AI at work and the changes it will bring to our professional lives have you ready to hang it all up and retire, we’ve got you covered there, too. Forbes’ list of the best places to retire in 2024—many of them unexpected, with just one in Florida—was released last week. Here’s hoping it sparks some ideas—or at least some daydreams—for your future retirement.

AI is already writing first drafts of job descriptions, marketing copy and sales emails to clients. But what happens when it drafts part of an employee handbook? The results aren’t always good. Forbes’ Rashi Shrivastava spoke with human resources consultants about what happens when these important, often legally binding employment documents—from company handbooks and workplace policies to offer letters and separation agreements—get written by AI and overlook key clauses or crucial issues that can put employers at serious legal and financial risk.


An investigation into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found the agency had a culture that allowed for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against employees who expressed concerns, according to reports in multiple outlets last week that preceded the release of the independent report. The five-month probe from the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton was prompted by a Wall Street Journal investigation late last year that alleged the FDIC had a culture of misogyny, sexual harassment, drinking and partying.

Apple faced a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board last Monday over the company’s questioning of its World Trade Center store staff in New York City in 2022, affirming a judge’s findings that employees were specifically questioned over pro-union sympathies. The board, which cannot impose fines or direct punishments against Apple for its violations, reports Forbes’ Antonio Pequeño IV, affirmed a prior decision by administrative law Judge Lauren Esposito, who ruled last year that Apple illegally stopped workers from placing union flyers on a table in the break room of the store.


Discrimination doesn’t just have financial or social impacts on people—it can also have biological ones that affect aging, according to a new study. Researchers from New York University found discrimination may cause accelerated aging, building on prior research that found discrimination may contribute to health problems like depression and heart conditions. The researchers, Forbes’ Arianna Johnson reports, followed more than 2,000 participants between either 2004 and 2009 or 2012 and 2016, finding that those who reported higher levels of all forms of discrimination aged faster than those with the lowest levels. Of note: “Everyday” and “major” discrimination had more severe effects than workplace biases. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved to advance the Protecting Older Americans Act of 2023 out of committee on Thursday, seeking to protect older workers from discrimination with an end to forced arbitration.

WHAT’S NEXT: Autodesk Chief People Officer Rebecca Pearce

Autodesk Chief People Officer Rebecca Pearce.PHOTO COURTESY AUTODESK

Pearce, the U.K.-based chief people officer at multinational software firm Autodesk, leads human resources at one of the few large tech companies without a return-to-office mandate. Pearce says it’s led to higher applicant volume in flexible roles and greater retention, as many other tech companies demand minimum days of work per week in the office. Forbes spoke with Pearce about the company’s approach to remote work, how it’s redesigned their offices and how a free lunch is still a big draw. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

So many tech companies have chosen to have a return-to-office mandate. Why have you chosen this path?

We’re very aware that we’re outliers. The truth is that we just have not seen the evidence that mandating people to come back to the office adds value in the way that we want it to. For us, what we care about is we want our folks to want to be in the office. We want to earn their commute. We want them to feel that there is a great advantage coming into the office because when they do they have a rich experience. We recognize massive benefits not just in the way that flexibility can help our people balance different elements of their life, but also how it can help us make sure our teams thrive. We have not seen any degradation in productivity, collaboration or innovation.

That’s not without intention and work to make sure that we don’t have any kind of negative consequences. We’ve always believed that just being able to physically see people does not equate to great engagement or great performance. We have always had highly distributed teams. Most people weren’t co-located with their entire team and manager prior to the pandemic—many people were coming into the office to work apart.

Are there team-based policies or is it truly everyone can decide?

We don’t have any return-to-office mandate at the company level. We effectively have three flexible employee categories. We have office-based for purely office roles. That’s less than 4% of our roles worldwide. We then have hybrid or home-based. For all intents and purposes, those roles are similar because neither of those categories requires people to be in the office for any minimum amount of time. It’s just whether you happen to be hired in the proximity of a place where we have a location or not. Even then, there’s no expectation that you have to commute.

But what we absolutely do have is guidelines around intentional gathering. We talk about an expectation that teams would probably gather at least four times a year on a quarterly basis. It may be more or less. … It’s for things where we know the work is better done in person—really intense collaboration and innovation work that needs to happen. It might be when somebody is new and they’re onboarding or just something where you need to really accelerate relationships or team building.

What have you done with your office space?

More than anything, we reconfigured how we use our space. We used to have a practice where teams would go off and have an offsite at hotels or conference facilities, whatever it might be. And we were like, we want to get people back in the office where it matters, and we have all this space. So why don’t we convert whole chunks of our office space into conferencing facilities?

So we created the Autodesk conference experience. We provide the kind of experience that people would have if they were going to a hotel. Full concierge. White glove experience. It’s an easy way for teams to come in: Breakout rooms, coffee stations, all that kind of stuff. But they also get group accommodation bookings, much better room technology. We invested in eight of those in some of our biggest hubs around the world last year: San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Singapore, Munich, Dublin, Barcelona and Bangalore. They’ve been so successful that we’re adding four more this year, in Montreal, Atlanta and various other places. We’ve seen huge usage of them. In the last 12 months we’ve seen a 12% increase in onsite meetings and 43% of offsite-type meetings are now onsite.

What are you doing to help address noise as people come back to the office and might be accustomed to the quiet spaces of their homes?

We still have 25% of our areas that are individually focused areas. But actually what you're talking about really resonates with me. I have ADHD—this is not something I usually share, but it means there are times when I really need to have that kind of focus or that stillness. We piloted some sensory spaces in different offices, which we're looking to expand around the world for folks—particularly for those who are neurodiverse, to be even more effective.

What about commuter benefits? Do those help encourage people to come in?

We put a lot of focus initially on making sure that people were set up to work well from home as well as in the office. Allowances to set you up with the right equipment, support for internet costs and utilities and so on. But really, it’s more around offering events and things which draw people in. There’s social events that run, we have a speaker series and we do a lot of town halls. And it always blows my mind how much a free lunch gets people in. We’ll get like 80% office attendance when we put on a free lunch.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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