Employees are using AI at work, but keeping it quiet for a specific reason

New study by Microsoft and LinkedIn finds employees are sneaking AI into the workplace

The use of generative artificial intelligence tools by employees in the workplace is booming, but most of the workers who are utilizing the new technology have reservations about admitting it, new data indicates.

A new 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report released by Microsoft and LinkedIn found the use of GenAI tools like ChatGPT among knowledge workers across the globe has nearly doubled just over the past six months, with 75% acknowledging they use it. 

worker peeking from behind computer

An office worker sneaks a peek above a computer screen at work. (iStock / iStock)

Yet, a majority — 52% — of those who use the tools said they are reluctant to admit they use them for their most important tasks, and 53% said they are worried that using AI on critical tasks makes them look replaceable.

Of the workers who use AI at work, 78% said they brought their own tools to the workplace. And the "bring-your-own-AI" (BYOAI) trend is not just happening among young folks. The study found it crossed all generations of workers.


Gen Z workers, ages 18-28, were most likely to bring in their own AI tools, but they were followed closely by millennials (75%) and Gen X (76%). Baby boomers were not far behind, with 73% of knowledge workers age 58 and over saying they brought their own AI tools into work.

Stressed man pinches nose

Sixty-eight percent of the knowledge workers who bring their own AI into the workplace say they have struggled to keep up with tasks at work. (iStock / iStock)

So why the big jump in AI use? Ninety percent of the workers who use AI said the tools save them time. The findings also showed a major driver of the trend is that employees say they cannot keep up with their workload, with 68% saying they struggle to keep up with the pace and volume of their work.


While utilizing AI tools in the workplace helps efficiency, the high percentage of workers who are keeping AI use a secret "puts company data at risk in an environment where leaders’ No. 1 concern for the year ahead is cybersecurity and data privacy,' the report states.

In reaction to the findings, Leah Cooper, chief digital officer at Sedgwick, told FOX Business that as GenAI has become readily available at people's fingertips, employees are using the tools in their own lives outside the workplace.

woman typing holding AI symbols

The findings from Microsoft and LinkedIn's joint report raise alarms about security concerns, given the high percentage of workers utilizing AI without disclosing its use. (iStock / iStock)

"When they are not available in the workplace, employees might be tempted to expedite processes by using these tools, but it’s important to consider security as employers are under mandate to keep data safe," she said.

"Employers are faced with the challenge of locking down access to the tools that could expose a company to a data breach, but also finding a way to bring new technology into the workplace. 


"This is an imperative part of the AI governance and security posture of companies, and creating a framework that can adapt to impending regulations will help protect company data, limit restrictions and alleviate concerns as employees look to use these new tools."