British workers are struggling to adapt to new digital tools, losing hundreds of hours in productivity in the process, according to a new report.
Following the global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have been forced to incorporate tools they have never used before, as an individual or employee, creating a drain or productivity and new challenges in communication.
The Modern Worklife report by Sigma, a leading UX design and development agency, has revealed that the average worker loses 28 minutes every day using digital programmes or tools that they can’t use effectively – almost two and a half hours per week.
For a full-time member of staff, this equates to 560 minutes (9.3 hours) per month or 112 hours per year. Considering there are 43,000 medium-large sized businesses in the UK, with 14,142,000 people employed at these enterprises, this equates to a total of 211,187,200 working days lost.
The new report also found that two-thirds (67%) of British workers lose up to 30 minutes every day due to difficult-to-use, inefficient or difficult-to-understand digital tools – with another quarter (26%) losing between 30 minutes to an hour.
Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma UK, said: “Despite the workplace being revolutionised by digital tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing and project management applications, clearly there is still some way to go for them to be an entirely efficient addition to modern working life. This is in part due to workers having limited understanding of how to use new tools and also tasks being doubled as suppliers, clients and different department using different types of tools to complete their day-to-day work.
“What’s more, following the global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers have, almost overnight, been required to conduct their jobs remotely and adopt a series of digital tools with little or no training, and with the tools often suffering from poor implementation. When interacting with other colleagues, teams, clients and suppliers that have adopted alternative tools, integration and communication breaks down and even doubles up, before a single channel is agreed upon.
“For example, email is being replaced with instant messaging apps and boards to share information that would be typically emailed, however it doesn’t suddenly become a legacy channel; new ones are simply added on top. Instead of just checking emails, everyone has to stay on top of numerous channels at once.”
The research found that on average, UK workers are using four digital tools in their daily working lives, with 6% of workers – almost 2 million people – using more than nine.
However, it’s not all bad news, 81% of workers feel that digital tools make day-to-day working life better, more productive and more efficient.
The data industry is the worst for time lost to difficult tools, followed by IT – naturally these industries have a higher usage of digital programmes that workers have to grapple with.
However, the hospitality industry is also placed highly in the list of lost hours, as it too struggles with new digital tools such as booking systems, rota and time management systems, order at the table apps and new POS (point of sale) systems.
Stephenson added: “More must be done, particularly in the industries which have been highlighted as having the most inefficient users, to better educate and integrate new digital tools for both internal and external communication. Often legacy systems are not fully replaced or integrated leading to further confusion among the workforce.
“Although this research was undertaken before the pandemic, there is no doubt the rush to work remotely has impacted even more businesses and their workers, meaning that figures could be temporarily even higher as the workforce is fragmented.
“There is opportunity to adopt these new digital tools and reduce the time it takes to do certain admin and organisation tasks, leading to efficiencies, ultimately saving time and money. As with any new system and process there will be initial teething problems, however those that persevere and address initial hurdles will be the businesses that benefit the most.”
The report, Modern Worklife, surveyed 500 SMEs and 500 employees from medium-large businesses in a range of sectors about their current working processes.