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Is productivity paranoia spreading?

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Research reveals it is not the hybrid work model that makes employees less productive, but the poor digital experience they are subjected to.

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More than a third (35%) of knowledge workers are unhappy with the enforced return to the office, according to new research from Scalable Software.

The leading provider of IT asset intelligence solutions, recently conducted a study of 2000 UK employees that sheds light on the growing resentment among UK knowledge workers towards the mandated return to the office.

The survey revealed an additional half (50%) of respondents believe their employers are suffering from ‘productivity paranoia’ – a fear that productivity is being lost due to employees working remotely.

The study also highlighted the additional strain placed on employees due to inefficient digital experiences. Knowledge workers are reportedly forced to put in an extra 3.1 weeks of work annually due to these inefficiencies, exacerbating the tension between employees and employers.

Mark Cresswell, Co-Founder at Scalable Software, noted that poor digital experiences negatively impact the productivity and efficiency of employees, regardless of their work location. He argued that it is not the hybrid work model that makes employees less productive, but the poor digital experience they are subjected to.

Time for a policy change?

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.

These include engagement levels with collaboration software and software application usage across different business teams and locations. Such data metrics could provide a more comprehensive understanding of workers’ productivity, and therefore inform more personable workplace policies.

Interestingly, the study found a willingness 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.

However, the study also pointed out 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%).

Is digital to blame?

These digital pain-points have a critical influence on job satisfaction and employee engagement. A growing number of knowledge workers are 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.

The findings of Scalable Software’s study underscore the need for organisations to reassess their return-to-office policies and digital work environments.

It’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable for the modern digital workforce. Instead, organisations should focus on creating a more flexible and personalised work model that takes into account the individual needs and experiences of their employees.

This includes investing in improving digital experiences and using data-driven insights to inform workplace policies. By doing so, organisations can not only enhance productivity but also improve employee satisfaction and retention.

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