The hybrid workplace is now just a fact of business life that organisations of all sizes have to prepare for, but technology frustrations are sapping morale and engagement at mid-size businesses, where more than a third of employees are struggling to feel engaged while working from home, according to research by Ricoh Europe.
The study, which polled the views of 573 European office workers at firms employing between 251 and 1,000 staff, revealed that incoherent investment in technology was driving the motivation drain, as employees struggled to make time to perform personally rewarding or high-value tasks.
Ricoh warned that the research suggested mid-size businesses were falling into the trap of investing in technology for technology’s sake, rather than identifying what the business actually needs, and that it highlighted the risk of top talent jumping ship to employers that have more beneficial and fitting digitised ways of working.
Almost two-thirds (65%) believed their company had digitised processes to copy customers or partners, rather than to address a particular need. Drilling down into the relevance of their employers’ digital processes, two in five (39%) survey respondents said they didn’t have real-time insight to properly engage with customers. Meanwhile, just a quarter (26%) said their employer had invested in e-commerce or digital tools to improve customer experience.
Yet for all the new technologies rolled out, employee workload has not reduced. In fact, 42% said technology platforms introduced during the pandemic had increased their workload, rather than reduce it. At the same time, 34% said they felt pressured to spend longer online, an increase of 13% from last year.
David Mills, Ricoh Europe
The shift to remote and new ways of working has also unearthed concerns about security breaches, with 45% of employees feeling anxious about inadvertently sharing files with the wrong recipient over new digital channels. At the same time, a similar proportion (47%) believed their bosses were using technology to monitor them when they work from home. The travails found among remote workers were said to be due mainly to communication and technology issues, and the figure of 36% found by Ricoh is more than double that found in similar research in August 2020.
Assessing the trends revealed in the research, Ricoh Europe CEO David Mills expressed surprise that after more than a year of remote working, and with what he called light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel, employee motivation continued to decline because of technology and communication challenges, even though it was not through a lack of trying.
“The biggest mistake is investing in technology for technology’s sake, or because you’ve seen a partner or competitor do it,” he said. “The first and most important step with any technology investment is identifying what your business actually needs. When doing this, it is vital to consider the perspective of your workforce and your customers. Only with this insight can you find the technology solutions that deliver maximum impact.”