IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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UK workers resent office return amid 'productivity paranoia' claims
Thu, 11th Jan 2024

More than a third (35%) of knowledge workers in the UK have expressed their resentment over being mandated to return to the office, according to new research from Scalable Software.

The study, which collated data from 2,000 UK respondents, also highlighted that half (50%) believe their employers are suffering from 'productivity paranoia' when it comes to employees working out of office.

The study revealed that knowledge workers are forced to put in an additional 3.1 weeks worth of work annually due to inefficient digital experiences, exacerbating the tension between employees and employers.

Mark Cresswell, Co-Founder at Scalable Software, noted the negative impact of poor digital experiences on the productivity and efficiency of employees regardless of their work location.

"It isn’t hybrid work that makes employees less productive. It’s the poor digital experience workers are subjected to that holds them back," he observed.

Cresswell also added that traditional one-size-fits-all policies dictating how and where employees work are simply not suitable for the modern digital workforce.

The research suggested that instead of imposing blanket workplace policies, organisations should focus on developing and assessing hybrid work models based on an array of enterprise data points including the engagement levels with collaboration software and software application usage across different business teams and locations.

These data metrics could provide a more comprehensive understanding of workers' productivity, and therefore inform more personable workplace policies.

The study also pointed to a openness among knowledge workers towards the use of DEX software by their employers to measure their efficiency when working from home, with 55% of respondents agreeing to such an arrangement.

The 2024 study found that digital experiences provided by employers have deteriorated since a similar study conducted in 2021. Nearly one fifth (18%) of the study participants rated their digital experiences as poor, observing typical experience friction such as repeated crashes of applications (47%), an overload of notifications (30%), and forced switching between applications (35%).

The influence of these digital pain-points on job satisfaction and employee engagement are critical, with a growing number of knowledge workers reportedly unsatisfied with their jobs (43%, up from 38% in 2021) and increasingly considering leaving their current employment (29%, up from 18% in 2021).

Cresswell emphasised the importance of adequate assessment of DEX to identify and alleviate problems that employees regularly encounter in their digital work environments.

He warned that the current trend of employees working close to a month extra annually is simply not sustainable, stating, "Not only is it a huge financial drain on businesses, but employees will leave for a better experience elsewhere."

He indicated that the daily 'friction' experienced by employees with digital applications and devices is costing businesses valuable productive hours, leading to frustrated and less engaged workers who are increasingly likely to consider other employment opportunities.