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UK firms still struggling to enable hybrid work

Survey reveals UK firms are still struggling to make hybrid work effective, with 62% of workplaces changing policy in the past four years and failure to adopt suitable digital tools leading employees to feel overwhelmed and frustrated

Hybrid work is now established as the de facto means of operation for knowledge work, yet research from Lucid Software has found that 20% of workers are considering quitting their jobs due to their employer’s hybrid work policy and a lack of tools to support productivity when working remotely.

The study, conducted by Researchscape on behalf of Lucid Software, surveyed 2,556 knowledge workers in the US (1,075), UK (474), Germany (384), Australia (342) and the Netherlands (281) in April 2024, screened from a population of 4,602 full-time staff, aged between 25 and 64, in firms with at least 10 employees.

One of the standout findings was that 54% of all organisations surveyed reported challenges around balancing employee productivity, with 62% of firms having repeatedly changed their workplace policy in the past four years. In addition, 47% of companies were encountering resistance to change. Overcoming these challenges, said Lucid, would require businesses to take intentional steps to equip their staff with the tools and processes needed to collaborate effectively.

Focusing on the UK, the survey found that despite widespread adoption over the past four years, firms were still feeling the effects of poor hybrid work. For instance, 27% of employees felt brainstorming and kick-off sessions failed to provide a clear understanding of next steps, and 37% claimed the ownership of tasks in teams was unclear.

Worryingly, 41% of UK respondents reported that some projects were failing to meet their objectives as a result, while only 38% of UK businesses had implemented digital collaboration tools and just 29% provided collaboration training to employees. Consequently, 20% of workers were considering quitting their jobs because of their employer’s hybrid work policy.

Lucid said the study indicated that UK workers were still not being given the tools they need to operate as hybrid teams. Even though 71% claimed visuals were either extremely or very important for collaboration, only 27% were provided with a visualisation tool and only 30% were given whiteboarding applications to use.

Lucid also warned that with worldwide IT spending expected to grow by 6.8% this year, companies need to ensure they don’t waste money on technology that employees aren’t using. The apparent considerable appetite from business leaders to invest in technology to boost productivity often results in employees becoming stretched across several applications to complete work.

Despite the fact that companies have been practising hybrid work for years now, leaders continue to fall short in adequately equipping and training their employees with the essential digital tools and processes needed for success
Jarom Chung, Lucid Software

The study observed that 38% of entry-level workers in the UK use three or four productivity applications, increasing to 44% of managers and 47% of the C-Suite. Combined with the fact that only 29% are provided with hybrid collaboration training, Lucid said it was no surprise that significant gaps were appearing between what software companies buy and what is providing a benefit. These gaps were said to have led to nearly a quarter (23%) of UK workers believing that they don’t have access to the right applications to be successful.

Moreover, many UK workers reported being consistently overwhelmed by the number of different applications they use at work. Just over a quarter of UK knowledge workers were either extremely overwhelmed or very overwhelmed by the number of different productivity applications they use, with 35% experiencing frustration as a result.

In a call to action from the findings, Jarom Chung, vice-president of product management at Lucid Software, said organisations need to intentionally evaluate the effectiveness of their tech stack, and focus on enabling their teams to work better together, no matter where they’re located.

“Despite the fact that companies have been practising hybrid work for years now, leaders continue to fall short in adequately equipping and training their employees with the essential digital tools and processes needed for success,” he remarked. “Specifically, the data demonstrates that effective visual collaboration is not just a luxury but a necessity in hybrid work, empowering employees to streamline vital information, collaborate seamlessly and maximise their productivity.”

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