AI tools could cut staff working hours by almost half

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UK workers could save 19 hours a week by 2026 thanks to the introduction of generative AI tools in their daily workflow, according to new research from Pearson.

The latest instalment of the company's Skills Outlook series looked at hours currently spent, countrywide, in the UK on certain work tasks each week, and calculated what this would be in three years' time as generative AI is adopted in the workplace.

Researchers then identified the tasks that would have the most time saved by the technology, specifically LLM chatbots and AI text-to-visual media generators.

"In nearly every workplace, people spend their day on common, time-consuming tasks that eat away at productivity or their work-life balance," said Oliver Latham, VP of strategy and growth for Pearson Workforce Skills.

"If those tasks could be augmented with generative AI, employers and their workers could reallocate time to the things that need a more human touch and mean more to their customers."

Notably, the study found that using AI to maintain knowledge in areas of expertise could save the UK 679,000 working hours each year. Similarly, using AI to develop educational programs for staff could also save 665,000 hours annually.

Using AI to create visual designs or displays could save 525,000 hours, while maintaining operational records could account for 512,000.

AI could also save 490,000 hours by preparing legal or regulatory documents, with another 406,000 saved when maintaining health or medical records.

"Employers should consider how to incorporate this new technology into their teams, and redesign roles to free people up to focus on more valuable, human tasks," Latham said.

"They should also consider the need for training and support for employees, so they can use it effectively and responsibly."

There's always the question, though, of whether those 19 hours a week will be used for more rewarding work - or whether they will simply allow employers to reduce headcount.


Recent analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that as many as eight million workers in the UK could lose their jobs as a result of greater use of the technology. Long-term, AI could end up carrying out 59% of all tasks.

Research shows that businesses globally are embarking on large-scale reskilling programs to reduce the potential impact of AI on the workforce, with a host of major tech companies such as Google launching their own AI skills programs in recent months.

In April, a group of large tech companies headed by Cisco also launched the AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Consortium, promising to upskill and re-skill those workers whose jobs are most likely to be impacted by AI.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.