Knowledge Workers Ready To Embrace Automation

"Wasteful" meetings and email continue to be a time-suck and the biggest productivity killers when it comes to getting work done, according to a new study from Workfront.

Knowledge workers are diving head-first into the office of the future with 88% stating that there are a lot of opportunities in the automated workforce, according to a new survey by Workfront®. In fact, four out of five workers (86%) believe that automation will let knowledge workers think of work in new and innovative ways. However, 34% believe in the not so distant future, men and women in their line of work will be competing with robots, machines, and/or AI for jobs.

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The survey of 2,000 U.S. knowledge workers found that they only spend 44% of their workweek on their primary job duties, but 69% believe that automation will give them time back to focus on their primary work. The top two things that get in the way of work are wasteful meetings (57%) and excessive emails (53%)— which are on the rise over last year (43%). One primary reason for the challenges could be that 94% of workers are using email to manage their day-to-day work, and only 31% use a project management tool that tracks accountability, visibility, and assigned work, tasks and/or projects.

“Our survey confirms that email, used for the wrong purposes, has become a productivity hazard for workers, with 60% agreeing that the time they spend in email is time they could have spent being more productive,” says Alex Shootman, CEO of Workfront. “The undeniable fact is there are plenty of issues when it comes to email because email was never intended to manage work. The good news is there are better ways to manage work. By implementing a solution like Workfront, teams are able to collaborate in the context of work, and gain complete visibility into the work that is being done. This eliminates, or minimizes, the need for status meetings or lengthy emails and gives teams time back to be more productive.”

workforce automation
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Some of the other highlights from the 2017 State of Work Report include:

  • Working from home is the new norm. Working remote is no longer abnormal with office workers doing so, on average, one day per week (8 hours). In the office of the future, 53% of workers think over half of the workforce will be remote.
  • Flextime on the rise. 79% of office workers state their offices allow flextime (i.e. the ability to work non-traditional work hours). 51% state that flextime works if people know how to manage themselves. However there tends to be a flextime disparity where workers at larger companies are more likely to be allowed to take flextime than those at smaller companies.
  • Technology = Freedom. 61% of office workers state that in the office of the future, video conferencing will enable remote working and that mobile phones will become the mobile office (51%). Workers also believe that employers will encourage greater use of collaboration software (Slack, Yammer, social media, and work management software) in order to stay connected to one another (53%).
  • Got news? 48% of office workers state that when there is a major news event, productivity in the office drops significantly. Interestingly, younger workers (18-35) are more likely than their older counterparts to say that major news events significantly affect office productivity.