25 Oct 2023
Reading time
≈2 minutes

Despite some employers attempting to limit access to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, several employees have clandestinely continued to utilize them for their work.

OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT in November 2022 saw companies racing to regulate its application in workplaces. There are prevailing concerns regarding the unintentional leakage of sensitive data, and the potential for these tools to be exploited by competitors, points out Simon Johnson from MIT Sloan School of Management.

However, the allure of these AI tools is undeniable for many employees. Bryan Hancock of McKinsey & Co. elaborates on their practicality, explaining that they can simplify tasks such as content aggregation and assist with technical chores.

Matt, a business consultant from Berlin, likens discovering ChatGPT to stumbling upon a cheat code in a video game. For him, this tool was revolutionary. It significantly enhanced his work efficiency, especially when researching intricate subjects and creating comprehensive client presentations. However, to maintain a competitive edge, Matt and his colleague kept their use of the tool covert, predominantly utilizing it during remote work.

Matt’s story isn’t an isolated incident. A 2023 study by Fishbowl revealed that of those who incorporated AI in their work, a whopping 68% kept it under wraps from their superiors.

The reasoning behind this clandestine usage varies. For some, using AI might signify a dependency on machinery, which could potentially undermine their professional competence. Hence, many are opting for stealth, seeking advice on forums like Reddit on how to discreetly employ these AI tools, bypassing any workplace bans.

A recent BlackBerry survey suggests that this challenge may escalate. A significant 75% of IT decision-makers are contemplating or already implementing restrictions on generative AI tools, with a majority believing these measures to be permanent.

However, Bryan Hancock warns that denying workers access to these tools could be counterproductive. The future workplace is likely to be intertwined with AI, and impeding access might result in employee dissatisfaction, potentially driving them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

In the meanwhile, Matt has found an alternative in Perplexity, another generative AI tool, which he values even more than ChatGPT due to its real-time information and source citations. For now, Matt plans to maintain his clandestine use, cherishing his competitive edge and not sharing this resource with his colleagues.


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