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5 Ways to Get More Comfortable Using AI for Work

If you wish you could spend less time on repetitive work tasks, such as writing meeting notes or drafting internal memos and emails, you might consider experimenting with generative artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI is designed to create new content, such as text and images, based on complex algorithms and models that learn patterns from vast amounts of data.

While that might sound overwhelming, nearly half of employees (44%) report using AI to help them at work, according to research firm Morning Consult.

In fact, you might already be using AI without realizing it since AI is embedded in many technology tools we use. For instance, if you’ve ever written an email and used a suggested word to finish your sentence, then you have used AI. However, if the suggested word isn’t the right word, you still use your human intelligence to finish the sentence the way you want.

Ever since AI was introduced to the larger population through ChatGPT in November 2022, more employees have started using the technology. Worldwide, 75% of knowledge workers are using generative AI, according to a recent survey by Microsoft and LinkedIn.

How to use AI for productivity

As AI usage at work becomes more mainstream, concern that employees who don’t use it could fall behind grows. “That worker who’s used AI now [has an extra hour] in their day to work on something a little bit higher level,” says Clayton Durant, director of emerging media and platform strategy at MikeWorldWide, a full-service public relations agency in New York City. Durant compares the introduction of AI to when email and the internet began to replace fax machines. “The people who embraced the internet and started to leverage the tools and technology ultimately got a little bit farther ahead of those who didn’t,” he says.

“One of the top questions that recruiters are going to ask job seekers in the next 18 months is [whether they have] used AI,” predicts LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill. In fact, that same Microsoft and LinkedIn study found that 71% of business leaders “say they’d rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate without them.”

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“Employees really need to understand [that] the future of work is going to include AI,” McCaskill adds. “It’s [going to] be woven into most of our tasks.” But that doesn’t mean you need to become an AI expert. You only need to become more comfortable using the technology.

5 ways to get comfortable using AI

Here are five small steps to take to become more comfortable using AI. 

1. Take an online course

LinkedIn is offering a series of online courses on AI, including What Is Generative AI? and How to Research and Write Using Generative AI Tools. These courses are geared to all levels, “from people who are novice[s] all the way up to people who [are] more savvy,” such as coders and engineers, says McCaskill.

2. Ask about your company’s AI policy

According to Durant, before you start using AI to complete work tasks, you should find out if your company has a policy for using AI at work. Many companies have rules around what tasks you can use AI to complete. For instance, many companies will allow employees to use AI to summarize meeting notes or write first drafts of reports, but most don’t allow workers to submit a report that has been written entirely by AI and was not edited by a human. In addition, employees need to be careful not to input any proprietary company data or specific customer data, such as names and revenue totals, into ChatGPT or other AI models. 

3. Test the waters with ChatGPT

McCaskill suggests signing up for a free ChatGPT account to start experimenting with the technology. For instance, you can input a paragraph you’ve written into ChatGPT and have it write the paragraph more succinctly. You can also ask it to summarize an article for you or write a step-by-step to-do list for a complicated project. He adds that starting with a small task will give you a sense of what the technology can do and how it works.

4. Start using AI for a repetitive task

Think about repetitive tasks that are time consuming, such as attending a meeting, transcribing the notes and writing a meeting summary. Instead of recording the meeting and transcribing the notes yourself, you could try recording it and asking Otter.AI to transcribe it, Durant adds. Then you can ask ChatGPT to organize the notes by topic. If most of your meetings occur over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, both platforms have built-in AI to record, transcribe and summarize meetings.

Consider the tasks that you don’t like to do or tasks that take too much time, think about how AI could help you with the task and start experimenting with the technology, suggests Dallas Crilley, a digital marketing strategist at Real News Public Relations in Dallas. For instance, you can use AI tools for “small tasks that [you] have complete control over… such as having AI proofread something [you’ve] written,” brainstorming questions to ask a client about a project or “provid[ing] constructive criticism [on] a presentation [you’ve] created,” Crilley says. Once you’re more comfortable with AI, you can use it for more advanced tasks, such as managing your calendar, sorting incoming emails or auto-generating reports from data.

5. Ask your colleagues how they are using AI

If you notice that a coworker is using AI, ask if they can show you how they use it and tell you what prompts and inputs are the most useful for their work, Durant says.

Keep in mind that it’s important to recognize which tasks can be done with AI and which still need human oversight, Crilley adds. “People should always oversee its output and be very careful not to use it for tasks that require human judgment, like resolving conflicts or making strategic decisions.”

Photo by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

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