For the past six years, Workfront, the first modern work management application platform for the enterprise, has released a “State of the Work” report sharing findings from a survey of knowledge workers employees in four countries.
This year, Workfront questioned knowledge workers to understand how people get work done, how they collaborate in large organizations, and how technology is changing the way work happens. We wanted to dive into the survey’s findings so, we recently chatted with Steven ZoBell, CTO at Workfront.
What did Workfront hope to learn from this survey?
Since we began our survey back in 2014, our goal has remained the same – to explore what global knowledge workers think about work, what their chief concerns are, and which tasks they spend most of their time on.
This year we surveyed 3,750 knowledge workers across the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany about a number of work topics. What gets in the way of work? What factors contribute to being productive at work? How often are employees interrupted by digital tools? And what do high-performing companies do that other companies don’t?
What modern challenges do companies face?
Digital transformation has created unique challenges for enterprises. Employees are more spread out than ever before, often even across the globe. Employees are interacting via social media channels with one another, customers, and partners. That’s a big change in the way they typically have managed those relationships.
Employees are also being asked to do more and to do it all faster. Offering a positive customer experience is more important than ever, especially considering that upset customers are able to do major damage if they share their displeasure online and it goes viral. In addition, high-value customer experiences help differentiate companies in an increasingly competitive market.
Whitnee Hawthorne, JetBlue Airways director of strategic execution, technology, gave us an executive’s perspective on the “constant” workplace pressure caused by these challenges.
“The most difficult thing about this pressure is narrowing in on what is going to move the needle, on what is going to help differentiate and keep us competitive, while also continuing to shore up our foundation upon which these innovations are built,” she said.
You mentioned wanting to learn what high-performing companies do that others don’t. What did you learn?
Our team has worked with more than 3,000 global companies in designing and implementing transformations. From that front row seat, we’ve observed four fundamental attributes shared by all teams and corporations that consistently outpace their rivals.
First, leadership at these companies operate from a place of transparency. Second, they clearly communicate the company’s strategy throughout the company and make sure that everyone understands what role they play in executing on this strategy. They also actively manage their work. That means using data effectively and resource management for decision-making.
The third fundamental attribute is they support their people with the right technology. These companies make technology investments based on corporate strategy and objectives. They use technology to speed up processes, connect operations within and across organizations, and inform and enable people. Fourth, these top companies possess exceptional organizational agility, enabling them to change more often and drive new market opportunities.
What did knowledge workers tell you about their jobs and the challenges they face at work?
The good news is that most knowledge workers – 91 percent – told us they’re proud of their work. Seventy-eight percent said their job is more than just a paycheck. And they want their work to help achieve company objectives, with 65 percent saying they wish they were rewarded more on results as opposed to just deliverables.
One of the biggest challenges they face is low-value work that distracts them from their actual work. For the past six years, we have seen that knowledge workers spend just around 40% of their workweek on their primary job duties; this is despite trillions of dollars being spent on digital transformation initiatives.
The main culprits getting in the way of work include wasteful meetings, excessive emails, excessive oversight, and poor work prioritization. They also don’t have standard processes that would guide their workflow.
Any surprises this year?
I was surprised at the serious impact of interruptions that today’s knowledge workers must deal with. Ironically, digital tools like instant messaging and Slack, that are supposed to help employees are actually adding to their stress. Our research showed that interruptions occurred an average of 13.9 times a day for employees. It can take more than 20 minutes for an employee to get back on track after an interruption; that amounts to 278 minutes – or 4.63 hours – a day merely trying to get back on task after interruptions. That’s serious lost productivity.
How can technology help these employees?
Our study found that work management technology could assist both companies and employees. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say they believe leaders should reconsider the way they think about technology in the workplace and 84 percent told us businesses are missing opportunities because they’re not moving to more modern solutions. Instead, these businesses are sticking with outdated technology.
Workers don’t want to have to search for information in a myriad of sources. Seventy-one percent want a single online location in which to work, a platform that combines project management, intelligent work automation and in-context collaboration. Based on these findings and our experience, it is time for enterprises to make the shift to work management technology as a holistic practice and a way to help employees and increase the success of the business as well.
Where can readers go for more information on the survey or on Workfront?
Our 6th annual “State of Work” report provides insights on what today’s workers think of their role, workplace roadblocks, solutions, and productivity while our website offers information on the company and our enterprise workforce solutions. SW
Nov19, Software Magazine