Wrike_3[5577]The number of apps in the UK workplace is rising but outdated work practices mean UK companies are struggling to close the productivity gap with their European counterparts.

This is the key finding of the Wrike Digital Work Report 2016, an independent survey about digital working culture and its impact on the lives of office workers in the UK, France and Germany.

Over the last year, the number of IT tools or apps used at work has increased for nearly half of UK office workers (46%), the majority of whom now juggle between three and six different types of desktop software, web applications and mobile apps.

This growing trend among UK workers however, falls well short of that seen among France and Germany, where adoption of digital tools has grown by 71 per cent and 60 per cent respectively over the same period.

Digital working – blessing or curse?

According to the report, commissioned by collaboration and work management platform Wrike, these tools are perceived to be both a blessing and a curse: half the UK respondents say they help in performing tasks by making work easier and more efficient. In France and Germany these perceived benefits were much higher (77% and 64% respectively), reflecting their more enthusiastic uptake for IT solutions.

Similarly, respondents across all three countries said that digital tools made it easier to work remotely and made access and sharing of information more reliable.

However, for over a fifth of UK workers (22%), apps were said to hinder or be detrimental in helping perform work tasks. And, among those who said that the number of apps being used at work had increased over the last year, 68 per cent said their stress levels had also gone up over that time, compared to only 10 per cent who said stress levels had gone down.

UK workers trail European colleagues in use of new ways of digital working

Overall, productivity levels among UK workers over the past year has risen by 26%, compared to 53% in France and 47% in Germany. The fact that app adoption levels have not been so prolific and that the UK appears to lag behind the times when it comes to new ways of digital working might go some way towards explaining this:

  • Collaboration tools – which make it easier to work on projects together and have central access to information – are only used by 15% in the UK, compared to nearly a quarter in France (24%).
  • Conferencing is used by 17% in the UK, but nearly three in ten in top-ranked Germany (28%).
  • There is a similar picture for project management software (UK 17%, France 28%, Germany 25%.)

Email is the biggest productivity zapper

wrike-man-on-laptop[5578]While email is still the most widely used IT tool by far, excessive emails are also the biggest productivity zappers, with over a third of UK respondents stating that this curbed their productivity (37%). Too many ineffective meetings, having too many tasks to juggle and prioritise and too much admin were next in line as the major culprits affecting productivity.

Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, commented: “This survey shows how reliant the modern workplace has become on technology to manage everyday tasks, but also how much room for improvement there is in terms of how we use that technology to best effect.

“As a technology company, Wrike can provide tools to help get work done more quickly, but technology can only ever be part of the solution. Managers, especially in the UK, need to make sure their businesses are using the right tools for the job to help employees manage their tasks productively, without inadvertently adding unnecessary workload or stress.”

The survey was conducted by OnePoll in August 2016 among 3,000 office workers, with 1,000 respondents each in the UK, France and Germany.

Additional findings:

  • 11% of office workers stated that more IT apps had increased their workload.
  • The biggest productivity zappers were email (37%), too many ineffective meetings (34%), having too many tasks to juggle (32%), having too much admin (25%) and too little or inneffective communication with managers / team mates (21%)
  • Collaboration tools are only used by 15% in the UK, compared to 17% in Germany and 24% in France.
  • Conferencing is used by 17% in the UK, but 27% and 28% respectively in France and Germany.
  • Project management software is used by 17% in the UK, 25% in Germany and 28% in France.