Inside the Mind of the Modern Worker: Introducing People @ Work

The rise of new workplace technologies over the past decade has given way to a connected, digitally-savvy modern worker. And these new tools have completely shifted how those employees work — video conferencing makes remote days feasible, communication apps allow for 24/7 conversation with colleagues, and security solutions enable employees to confidently collaborate and share more information than ever.

But, what do today’s workers think about it all? To better understand their thoughts, we surveyed over 1,200 knowledge workers across the U.S. in conjunction with our fifth annual Businesses @ Work report.

We found employees across all industries seek flexibility — in office location, dress code, and in managing their time. They’re incorporating apps, services, and technologies into their day-to-day work to enhance productivity, but they need those tools to be easily implemented and to function without glitches. While workers say they would prefer to nix some technologies, they’re generally embracing perks of the digital workplace to enhance their efficiency.

Here’s what else we found:

More meetings, more problems

Although knowledge workers cite many distractions, they cite meetings as the number one offender. In fact, 73% would rather read an email than have a meeting. As for other productivity killers, slow and outdated technology ranked second at 21%, indicating workers’ low tolerance for tools that can’t work as efficiently as they can. But productivity is a personal problem, too: 18% of today’s workers struggle to keep up with emails and messages, and 12% find managing personal appointments and family matters contribute to a lack of concentration.

When it comes to apps, ease of use is key

The sheer amount of work apps at our disposal may be enough to overwhelm any employee. Therefore, ease of use becomes even more essential. Our survey found employees gravitate toward apps that consistently run with few glitches (31%) and allow for simple communication with teammates (16%). Security and interoperability topped the list of needs too, with 13% of knowledge workers noting they seek out apps with strong cybersecurity protections and 13% citing the importance of compatibility with other software, platforms and services.

It’s all about the snacks and casual attire

From standard corporate cubicles to flexible, pet-friendly open office spaces with ample snacks, all the way to remote work alternatives, the modern office has undergone a massive transformation. Our survey found that many employees now work from home — nearly 1 in 4 report already working from home at least half of the time. And for those who do, they go for casual attire: 45% reported they prefer to WFH in jeans and a t-shirt, and athleisure was the second most popular option at 27%. For those in the office, a large snack selection is a huge perk, and 40% even rely on their office snack selection as a lunch alternative.

It’s hard to distinguish between business and personal life

Using the same technology devices and apps for business and personal matters means the boundaries between the two inevitably blur. Our survey shows employees’ personal lives bleeding into the workplace, with 52% admitting to shopping online while at work, 31% leaving work for an “appointment” when actually taking care of a personal errand, and 6% checking a dating app during the workday. But, despite the blending of the two worlds, workers aren’t worried about employers invading their digital privacy. 58% said their employer can read their work emails and messages, and 57% aren’t concerned about it at all.

As technology seeps into every aspect of the modern workplace, employers should stay savvy on the impacts of new apps, services and tools on employees. Flexible solutions can empower productivity and create a more cohesive workplace, but it’s crucial to introduce and implement the tools in the right way — doing so will keep employees satisfied and enable them do their best work.

To check out more results from our 2019 Businesses @ Work report, you can find the full findings here.