Freshworks Report Reveals AI Is Delivering Strong Productivity Gains and Unlocking Higher-Value Work for Employees

Freshworks Report Reveals AI Is Delivering Strong Productivity Gains and Unlocking Higher-Value Work for Employees
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More than half of knowledge workers are actively using AI at work—and driving efficiencies of nearly 24 business days of work per year

Freshworks Inc. (NASDAQ: FRSH) released its new Global AI Workplace Report, revealing how various workplace departments are interacting with AI since the new era of generative AI exploded into the market 18 months ago. The global survey of 7,000+ full-time employees, collected from March 9 to April 4, 2024, revealed how AI has become a tool commonly used among knowledge workers – more than half (55%) of workers surveyed said they are currently using software applications enhanced with AI at work. 

Moreover, nearly three in four of all workers surveyed (72%) trust AI to bring value to their work processes—and 81% of employees trust AI because they believe its quality of work is good or it makes their team more productive.  The report demonstrates that AI is quickly moving from an experimental pilot tool to an active driver of substantial enterprise efficiency and productivity gains across operations and industries. 

“This report exemplifies that AI is delivering tremendous productivity gains at enterprise scale,” said Freshworks Chief Product Officer, Prakash Ramamurthy. “Knowledge workers are also seeing strong productivity gains at work, which in turn is sparking strong employee interest in mastering AI skills. Make no mistake, the AI era is firmly delivering on its promise to free up employees for higher-level work and showcasing compelling returns on AI.”

Return on AI: Productivity gains equivalent to a month each year

Freshworks’ survey found knowledge workers are achieving impressive productivity gains from using AI at work. Employees estimate that using AI helps them reduce their existing workload by 3 hours and 47 minutes in a typical work week, by helping them complete tasks such as summarizing issues and suggesting the next steps to handling repetitive tasks. By freeing up nearly 24 business days—or just over one month of work per year— employees can take on higher-value work that delivers greater engagement.

Nearly all (95%) senior leaders (defined as manager level and above) using AI say their departments are measuring the business impact AI brings to their organization. Many report productivity improvement (52%), better quality of work (47%), and improved customer engagement (34%). Still, 37% of workers admit they don’t have good metrics for measuring productivity in their organization.

Leaders surveyed believe the return on AI will only improve, with 80% of senior leaders saying AI software will provide enough business impact to prove its worth within two years. When all respondents were asked about the value of generative AI, open-ended comments included improving internal and external communication and externally, eliminating redundant email threads and speeding creation of technical reports.

“Leaders across industries perceive AI as a transformative technology capable of delivering significant business impact, from enhanced decision-making and increased operational efficiencies to personalized customer experiences and innovative product development,” said Ramamurthy.

“Surprise AI” is everywhere

Freshworks’ survey also revealed more workers are using—and benefiting from—AI than they even realize. Almost half (40%) of workers surveyed think they use AI at work but don’t know to what extent or how. This sentiment was confirmed by 47% of IT respondents who agreed employees are using software that incorporates AI but don’t realize they’re using it. For instance, AI is often embedded into existing popular software to enable email autocomplete, suggested meeting times or notes from meetings.

Despite a lack of full awareness of AI’s role in their work life, many employees professed widespread confidence in their ability to use AI. IT departments are, to no surprise, the most confident and comfortable using the technology, with (75%) saying they’re knowledgeable or an expert, followed by marketing (65%) and finance (52%).

The race to embrace is strong

Workers appreciate that AI is a workplace game-changer, and they’re taking action to embrace its value. More than two in three workers (70%) say they’re looking for ways to develop their AI skill set to stay as marketable as possible. Similarly, more than a third of workers (37%) say their companies are adopting AI software due to a fear of missing out on the next big thing or on innovations that AI could give their competition.

Employees also see clear benefits to the organization; nearly two-thirds of workers (62%) say boosting profitability or staying competitive are the main reasons to adopt AI-enhanced software applications. Nearly half (46%) say any company not using AI is already behind and likely to fail in the future.

While most workers (69%) say AI will never be able to completely replace human workers, they do harbor concerns about how it could hold back the next generation. Nearly half of the workers surveyed (44%) say AI will replace junior roles and create heavier competition for entry-level roles.

The U.S. is a top AI developer—but also ranks last in AI adoption and trust

AI adoption also saw varied uptake, with surprising discrepancies within employees in countries leading in AI development, such as the United States. Of the survey respondents, the U.S. ranks last globally when it comes to AI adoption (50%), trust in workplace AI software bringing value to their work (59%) and comfort in using AI (61%). By comparison, respondents from India and the United Arab Emirates lead in AI adoption (75%), comfort with AI (88%), and trust in workplace AI software bringing value to their work (86%). Complete stack rankings are available in the report.

Methodology

Freshworks conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by PureSpectrum among n=7,000 adults ages 18+ who are full-time salaried employees currently working in a desk job position, with n=1,000 United States, n=1,000 United Kingdom, and n=500 within each of the following countries: Netherlands, Germany, France, Singapore, Australia/New Zealand, India, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.  

Within each country, the sample included employees working in human resources, IT, customer services/support, finance/accounting, sales, marketing, and legal departments, including a sample of manager or above titles within each department. The sample was balanced by gender, age, and company size, with an internationally representative geographic spread of respondents. Data was collected from March 9 to April 4, 2024.  

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