Poor tech kills hybrid work productivity

People who work from home say the IT they use is failing or performs poorly, which reduces their productivity, leading to hours of work lost

While most knowledge workers say they are well-equipped to work from home, many feel hybrid working makes their job more difficult. A Censuswide survey for Scalable Software, based on a poll of 2,000 employees, found that 40% of employees say hybrid work makes their job harder.

According to Scalable Software, this is higher in organisations with 1,001-1,500 employees (54%) and in those with 2,001-3,000 employees (55%). Employees are working an extra 3.1 weeks a year because of poor digital experiences. Scalable Software said this amounts to an increase of almost a full week compared with the 2.2 extra weeks identified when the survey was previously run in 2021.

One of the key reasons is digital friction, which analyst Gartner defines as the “unnecessary effort extended by employees using technology for work”, acting as a roadblock to employees’ productivity. Digital friction is one of the biggest culprits for poor digital employee experience (DEX), according to Gartner.

The research from Scalable Software showed that knowledge workers experience multiple instances of digital friction across many areas, from “notification overload” (30%) to application switching (35%). According to Scalable Software, digital friction is a particular scourge that affects DEX and is a drain on productivity.

The survey estimated an additional 2.83 hours a week on average is wasted because employees are struggling with technology that simply doesn’t work, runs slowly, or because of poor design and inefficient workflow. The poll found this figure is higher in companies with 1,501-2,000 employees (3.58 hours) and those with 2,001-3,000 employees (3.4 hours), as well as in business services (3.42 hours) and telecoms (3.68 hours). In total, poor DEX wastes 5.55 hours each week of a single knowledge worker’s time, which, Scalable Software said, leads to a large amount of lost hours in a large workforce of thousands of employees.

Most (62%) respondents feel IT departments don’t understand how they work or provide them with a personalised service, an increase on the 49% of respondents who felt the same in 2021.

Many knowledge workers also say that poor DEX has reduced their job satisfaction more now (43%) than in 2021 (38%), and more say it has made them want to leave their job (29%) than in 2021 (18%).

Read more about digital employee experience

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Scalable Software urged IT and HR leaders to act fast to cut this waste and reduce the impact of negative DEX. “Once heralded as the ‘future of work’, hybrid has quickly become the scapegoat for falling business productivity,” said Mark Cresswell, co-founder of Scalable Software.

“But it isn’t hybrid work that makes employees less productive. It’s the poor digital experience workers are subjected to that holds them back, wherever they are. In fact, half of all respondents say negative DEX makes them less productive at their job.

“The RTO [return to office] versus WFH [working from home] battle is likely to get even more fierce this year,” he said. “To keep employees onside, businesses’ methods of measuring experiences and productivity must evolve. One-size-fits-all policies that dictate how and where employees work are not fit for today’s modern digital workplaces.”

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