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Wed 16 Oct 2019 11:58 AM

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Majority of UAE workers trust a robot more than their manager - study

Global research highlights how AI is changing the relationship between people and technology at work

Majority of UAE workers trust a robot more than their manager - study
On average globally, 64 percent of people would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice, the survey results showed.

UAE workers have more trust in robots than their managers, according to a global survey released this week.

In the UAE, 72 percent of employees have turned to AI over their managers, said the latest report from software firm Oracle.

UAE survey respondents said robots are better at maintaining work schedules (42 percent), problem solving (34 percent) and providing unbiased information (32 percent).

On average globally, 64 percent of people would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice, the survey results showed.

The increasing adoption of AI at work is having a significant impact on the way employees interact with their managers, said the second global ‘AI at Work’ study, which was conducted in partnership with research company Future Workplace.

UAE workers ‘open’ to AI

“In the UAE, in particular, employees are open and positive about the role of AI in HR and manager relations,” Emily He, SVP - HCM Cloud Business Group, told Arabian Business.

The country is ahead of the game when it comes to AI compared to other regions, said He, citing the UAE's pro-AI government backing as a major innovation driver.

“In some cases, people feel machines know them better than humans; they feel AI knows them well,” the Oracle SVP said.

“They feel their managers don’t understand them and they want better coaching and guidance. Companies should now be asking: “What is the role of the manager?”

East and west divide

However, there is a noticeable difference in perceptions of AI across the east and the west.

Workers in India (60 percent) and China (56 percent) are the most excited about AI, followed by the UAE (44 percent), which compares starkly with Japan (25 percent), the US (22 percent), UK (20 percent) and France (8 percent), the study said.

The study of 8,370 employees and managers across 10 countries – including 246 respondents in the UAE – found that AI has changed the relationship between people and technology at work and is reshaping the role of HR teams and managers.

Contrary to common fears around how AI will impact jobs, employees and leaders in the UAE are reporting increased adoption of AI at work and many are welcoming AI with optimism.

62 percent of UAE workers used some form of AI at work last year, compared with 77 percent and 78 percent in China and India respectively. Take up was lowest in France (32 percent) and Japan (29 percent).

“UAE employees expect AI in the workplace. They are talking to Alexa and Siri at home and they want to interface with technology in a similar way at work,” He said.

“They also want to find out things quickly through machine learning. It’s important to bridge that gap,” she added.

Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, said: “Over the past two years we’ve found that workers have become more optimistic as they’ve adopted AI in the workplace and HR is leading the way.

"Based on the findings, managers will remain relevant in the future if they focus on being human and using their soft skills, while leaving the technical skills and routine tasks to robots.”

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