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20 February 2019
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Mundane work tasks hamper experimentation © iStock

21 September 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal 


Most American knowledge workers say their companies regularly ask them to innovate, but more than half say they’re too overwhelmed by day-to-day work to be more enterprising, according to a report by US software company Workfront.


The survey found the work they do is a source of pride to most employees – over half (57 per cent) say what they do matters to them. But the report also reveals that US workers rate their own contributions higher than those of their colleagues.


On average, most workers scored their own productivity at 7.84 out of 10, compared with 7.05/10 for their co-workers and 6.28/10 for the company’s leadership.


The fifth annual State of Work survey was conducted online on behalf of Workfront by Regina Corso Consulting from 14-28 June. It canvassed 2,010 American respondents employed by companies with 500 employees or more, concentrating on those who used computers to collaborate with other people on projects.


Most believe that automation would boost personal productivity, as 77 per cent thought that the rise of automation would help people and teams think of work in new and innovative ways. Many said they despaired of time-wasting activities that meant they spent only 39 per cent of their working day on their key tasks. Emails and pointless meetings topped the list of things that keep knowledge workers from getting work done.


The survey’s main takeaways were:


• Workers are sceptical about their colleagues‘ work-rates – on average they would award give them only 3.7 stars (out of five). US workers consistently rank themselves as the most productive employee in their company.


• 64 per cent say their workplace regularly asks employees to think of how they can do things in a totally new way – but 58 per cent say they’re so swamped with getting mundane tasks done that they don’t have time to think beyond the ‘to-do’ list.


• Email and pointless meetings cripple productivity. Workers typically think they spend only 40 per cent of their day on their primary tasks.


• 61 per cent of respondents say the work they do matters to them – baby

boomers being more likely than millennials to say so (67 per cent against 53 per cent).


• 86 per cent of workers believe that, ultimately, the rise of automation will help us think of work in new and innovative ways. But 48 per cent say they know people who have already lost jobs because of automation.


• 44 per cent of respondents say they’re requesting more tools to manage work, which indicates that a sizeable section of the modern workforce wants guidance on work management.


• Only 34 per cent believe that within five years their company will be able to track almost all work that is being done in the company – and even fewer believe they’ll be able to see how their work maps to their company’s strategic initiatives (26 per cent) or its bottom line (24 per cent).


Alex Shootman, president and CEO of Workfront, said: “As companies race to digitise across every aspect of their business, from human resources to finance to sales, people and the work they do each day has been left behind in legacy productivity solutions and antiquated tools, trapping innovation.


“Today’s workforce wants and needs a new platform for collaboration and digital work, one that connects people to get things done and enables leaders to see, support, and measure their entire enterprise. These results demonstrate how much the modern workforce wants and needs a new approach.”