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The Rise of the Invisible Workforce: Adaptavist Digital Etiquette Study reveals

Based on a survey of more than 1,600 knowledge workers in the UK, organisations need to engage more with their employees and they have a big task at hand if they want to achieve employee satisfaction. The research revealed that 43% of workers want to come back to work full-time while the exact same figure (43%) favour a flexible/hybrid model. Adaptavist believes that one of the reasons that workers want to return to the office is because 75% of workers feel invisible to their colleagues on digital platforms despite their interactions and posts.

In terms of staff satisfaction and wellbeing, almost a third (32%) miss working with their team side-by-side. A quarter of respondents cited the absence of chance meetings with colleagues as the source of the greatest negative impacts on their engagement.

The hybrid workplace is here to stay but for companies to keep employees engaged and effective, it’s time for more communication to make sure every worker is seen. And with 35% actively pursuing finding a new job (53% directly related to how the company responded to Covid-19), there is no time to waste!

“What this year’s Digital Etiquette Study clearly demonstrates is that while hybrid working is the way forward, there is still work to be done to maximise the opportunities that flexible working can bring to both employees and businesses alike,” says Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist.

Sir Cary Cooper is the Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School. Professor Cary believes that people feeling invisible in the workplace and craving colleague interaction is completely natural and to be expected, particularly after the unprecedented lockdowns that forced people to work from home whether they liked it or not.

He says “People feel invisible as they can’t effectively influence their own working model as they are being dictated to and that’s not healthy. A good psychological contract between employers and employees needs to be negotiated which takes listening and empathy on both sides. If management does not have the emotional intelligence and people skills to deliver on this contract, staff will actively seek new employment as the research from Adaptavist shows. It’s about providing training on how to listen to your team and allow them to make their own choices as well as making sure the correct tools are in place to support a hybrid working model.”

2021 Digital Etiquette Study Highlights the Rise of the Invisible Workforce

International study finds that workers struggle daily with using digital tools, worry about virtual communication and feel invisible on digital platforms.

The 2021 Digital Etiquette Study by digital transformation experts, Adaptavist, highlights that 43% of workers in the UK want to come back to the workplace/office full-time, while the exact same figure (43%) favour a flexible/hybrid model and 14% want to be remote only. However, as hybrid work increasingly becomes the long-term future for knowledge workers, Adaptavist has found growing despair among employees with the tools and technologies they are using to navigate working remotely with many left feeling invisible.

The Adaptavist 2021 Digital Etiquette Study includes survey responses from 1,600 knowledge workers across the UK. “What this year’s Digital Etiquette Study clearly demonstrates is that while hybrid working is the way forward, there is still work to be done to maximise the opportunities that hybrid working can bring to both employees and businesses alike,” says Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist.

The Rise of the Invisible Workforce

This year’s Digital Etiquette highlights that organisations need to engage more with their staff if they want satisfied employees. According to the Study, a whopping 75% say they ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ feel invisible to their colleagues on digital platforms despite their interactions and posts. When asked what improvements they would recommend to management, employees’ top three responses were:

  • 25% say leaders need to show more empathy for employees
  • 23% want to be asked for employee feedback on the way work has changed post Covid
  • 21% want to be asked for employee feedback on the tools being used

Also, 20% of respondents say management is out of touch with the way work and productivity has changed and when asked what they need, employees were clear. The top answer was more training and learning opportunities (35.3%). The second most identified need was better tools, software and hardware to do the job (35.1%).Thirdly, employees want their managers to be more realistic (34%).

When asked about the things they missed most about the pre-Covid work environment, respondents answered the following:

  • 32% of employees miss working side-by-side with their team
  • 24% miss chance meetings with colleagues they don’t work with directly for social reasons
  • 20% miss the clear delineation of work and personal life
  • 17% miss the ability to celebrate success / special events and give and receive recognition.

Adds Haighton-Wiliams: “A key learning from the Study is that companies need to communicate and engage more with employees to better understand how work has changed and what employees need to be more effective and ultimately happier in their work. The last 18 months has driven many organisations and teams apart and distrust has grown with 35% actively pursuing finding a new job outside of their current organisation. Of those respondents, 53% are looking for another job directly related to how the company responded to Covid-19.”

Driving Digital Discontent 

The widespread adoption of additional tools to accommodate new work requirements due to the pandemic (58%), has led to new challenges in the workplace including the following key findings:

  • 58% report spending half an hour or more each day looking for information they need to do their job, such as searching emails or chat conversations*
  • 45% stated that their organisation has too many tools/software requirements and
  • 43% said their organisation has too many tools that perform the same function
  • 45% claimed they spend too much time navigating between tools to do their job efficiently
  • 45% are familiar with the term ‘task switching’ and of those, 53% say they feel they lose time during the day due to switching tasks across digital tools
  • 29% are familiar with the term ‘tool fatigue’ and of those, 59% say they lose time during their workday due to tool fatigue.

For further insights and to download the Study, visit: report

About the Adaptavist Digital Etiquette Study

4,454 workers that operate in office-based industries and departments from the US (c. 1,600), UK (c. 1,600) Canada (c. 600) and Australia (c. 600) were surveyed for Adaptavist’s 2021 Digital Etiquette study. The survey audience spans part-time employees to c-suite level executives and owners across industries.The research included a breakdown of the various ages of workers: 41% of respondents were 23-38 years old; 39% 39-54; 19% between 55-74; and 1% were%, 75 years or older. You can find the full 2021 Digital Etiquette report here.

Note that each figure over .5 has been rounded up for consistency.

*This is an increase of 5 mins per day, year on year despite having 12 months to adapt to remote / hybrid working.

2018