No matter how you slice the data, the UK is still in the top 10 of global economies which, according to the latest World Bank figures, is worth $2.9 trillion a year. Although declining with respect to manufacturing, the UK has excelled in the knowledge economy, especially in areas such as financial services and media entertainment.
Some attribute the issue, at least partly, to a lack of investment in areas such as automation along with a workforce that has been slow to gain training on newer digital skills. As a knowledge worker economy, the dependency on software applications also has a greater impact on productivity. Yet new evidence suggests that the modern digital workplace is still rather inefficient when it comes to how workers interact with software and communication tools.
Information and application overload
A recent survey conducted by CITE Research of 500 staff across a representative sample of UK organisation found that specifically for communications applications, workers today are using an average of four apps, with 20% of workers using six or more. The survey, which was part of a larger study including respondents from the United States and Australia, found that the UK was roughly on par with its peers in terms of application usage and, more worryingly, was part of a trend towards information and application overload.
The most striking finding was that 69% of workers waste up to an hour each day navigating between multiple apps. This equated in the UK to about a month a year of lost productivity due to inefficient use of information technology systems.
A single platform for better productivity at work
When asked, employees and managers stated they would prefer to use fewer applications or applications that are better integrated with one another to make the process of carrying out complex processes more streamlined. In fact, around two-thirds of employees (67%) believed that a single platform integrating all their communications channels would help them achieve better workflow and to be more productive at work. While 61% thought that a unified platform would make remote working easier.
69% of workers waste up to an hour each day navigating between multiple apps. This equated in the UK to about a month a year of lost productivity due to inefficient use of information technology systems. Click To Tweet
The survey also revealed, unsurprisingly, that younger workers were more in favour of instant messaging to talk directly and within teams, while older staff gravitated towards more established email contact.
Behind all the survey data, a clear trend emerges of a workforce that has benefited from modern digital transformation. However, one analysis of the situation suggests that left unchecked, the proliferation of apps – especially as users start to shift away from the fixed desk and towards mobile access – has the potential to add more complexity and additional wasted hours as workers need more apps to get the job done.
Seamless integration and application unification
With the ‘grandfather’ of the unified application concept, Microsoft Office, now celebrating its 27th year, the benefits offered by the cloud and faster internet access suggest it should be possible for other currently disparate communications and productivity applications to become much more seamlessly integrated.
If the UK is to close the national productivity gap, an easy first step would be to reduce the app overload on the millions of PC desktops, smartphones, and tablets that underpin our digital economy. Looking to the future, as more employers explore the benefits of flexible and teleworking patterns, application unification and tighter integration will lead to a more efficient and potentially happier workforce.
See the latest survey report from RingCentral about the workplace apps we use that’s injecting chaos into business workflows: App Overload is Creating Chaos at Work and Costing Businesses Billions.
Originally published Mar 06, 2018, updated Jan 16, 2023