As organizations ease into new post-pandemic workplaces, many are solidifying their hybrid and remote work arrangements. Software tools that aim to promote collaboration and information-sharing across distributed teams will likely be central to these setups, but according to a new survey, designers of these new workplaces need to pay closer attention to how employees are actually leveraging tech for success.
A study of 1,000 remote workers in the U.S. and U.K. by Qatalog and Cornell University’s Ellis Idea Lab revealed a number of common problems employees are experiencing when it comes to the software tools meant to enable remote work. In particular, respondents reported difficulty finding information through tools meant to promote connectivity—54% of those surveyed said such tools actually make it harder to do their jobs.
The workers said they waste about 20% of their typical workday bouncing between messaging apps, project management tools and cloud storage systems to find the information they need. Nearly 70% said locating the information they need on their software tools is time-consuming—and is causing disruptions. Respondents reported interrupting at least two people up to five times every day to find the information they can’t locate through their software tools.
What it means to HR leaders
Complicating matters is that employees are responding to the difficulties and disruptions by, in some cases, “going rogue”—with two-thirds reporting that they don’t always use the tools recommended by their employer. What’s more, respondents said that more than 20% of the mistakes they make at work are because they had difficulty accessing the company’s online tools and communication platforms.
In its report, Qatalog laid out a four-pronged strategy to enhance efficiency and connectivity among remote workers in the new world of work. It starts with trust, particularly creating a culture that prioritizes accomplishments and capabilities over activity—to foster high-quality, creative input. A culture of trust enables flexibility—where each employee’s productivity isn’t dependent on a manager or leader, expectations are clearly communicated and teamwork prioritizes goal alignment over shared time. Focus can grow from flexibility, the authors wrote. To help employees maintain focus, digital tools should be consolidated, work/life boundaries enforced and workloads evenly distributed. Finally, they say, focus can make belonging a reality—where workers feel their contributions and ideas are valued, and individual, virtual working styles are understood and supported.
Tariq Rauf, CEO and founder of Qatalog, says HR needs to take an “intentional” approach to “fixing our chaotic work practices.” In particular, he advocates for pressing “reset” on the tech that underpins work, pivoting so that it “creates focus, not chaos,” while also pursuing a “mindset shift that breaks from pre-pandemic 9-5 norms and embraces a radically new working culture rooted in trust.”
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