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In recent months, we’ve been talking a lot about the concept of Reimagining Work. Business is global, there are as many as four generations in the workplace, consumer technologies are flooding the enterprise, and employees have new demands and expectations about the very nature of work itself. With these shifts in mind, we’ve challenged organizations to be more proactive in creating a work environment that empowers and enables today’s connected workforce.

We decided to further explore these themes in the new The State of Workplace Productivity Report. Cornerstone, in collaboration with global research firm Kelton, surveyed over 1,000 employed U.S. adults to break down employees’ attitudes regarding technology in the workplace and their perspectives on whether company-provided applications are supporting how employees want to get their jobs done.

Through our findings, we confirmed that today’s workers are more connected than ever—using multiple devices and applications to access and manage the constant stream of information that comes from living in an always-on world. But is hyper-connectedness helping employees be more productive or simply leaving them overwhelmed?

Caution: Overload

Cornerstone’s survey reveals that U.S. employees are feeling overloaded, whether by work (50 percent), information (34 percent) or technology (25 percent). And surprisingly, it’s the tech-savvy Millennials who are feeling the most overwhelmed from being “always on.” Information overload was cited by 41 percent of them, versus just 31 percent among older generations, while technology overload was cited by 38 percent of Millennials compared to 20 percent of older workers.1

From unplugging and digital detoxes to meditation and hiding in metaphorical caves, people are trying everything in order to combat the stress of living in a 24-7 connected world. But despite these attempts, our research shows that employees are still turning to tech to tame their hyper-connected lives. And they are even willing to try out wearable devices to manage everything from monitoring sleep to exercise to spurring self-improvement.

Key survey findings include:

·        Face Time for the Facebook Generation. Despite the stereotype that younger generations prefer to hide behind their devices when collaborating with others at work, a surprising 60 percent of Millennials prefer to collaborate in person rather than online (34 percent), or via phone or video conference (6 percent). Overall, seven in ten U.S. employees (72 percent) said they favor in-person collaboration.

·        The Rise of Wearable Devices. Wearables have the potential of not only impacting workplace productivity but also how employees think about work-life balance. In fact, 58 percent of survey respondents said they would be willing to use wearable technology if it enabled them to do their job better.

·        Multi-Screen Multitasking. While workers across all generations are using multiple devices for work, more Millennials are opting for the “bring your own device” (BYOD) approach (56 percent) versus their older colleagues (39 percent). Over half of Millennials (52 percent) use their smartphones for work compared to just 23 percent among older generations. And one in five Millennials (20 percent) uses a tablet for work, versus 10 percent of older employees.

·        Productivity Rx. Employees who use applications for work juggle an average of four a week. Sixty-five percent of Millennials have downloaded at least one application to use for work purposes in the past 12 months, compared to 57 percent of Gen X workers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers.

·        The Emergence of Buy Your Own Application. Employees are not just bringing their own devices, they are now relegated to buying their own applications to get their jobs done. Of those currently using software for work, nearly four in ten employees (37 percent) said they are likely to spend their own money to download applications for work purposes in the next 12 months. Even 20 percent of employees not currently using applications for work said they were likely to do this.

·        Work Apps: What Matters Most. According to the survey, ease of use (77 percent), convenient access to information (73 percent), the ability to be more productive (62 percent) and the ability to collaborate with others (40 percent) are most important to employees when it comes to the applications they use for work.

With today’s workers desperate to simplify the chaos, organizations need to reexamine whether they’re doing enough to stay ahead of what employees want and need in order to be most productive. It’s about embracing new tech trends, such as mobile, social and the cloud, and providing workers with user-centric applications that simplify – not complicate – how they get work done.

Click here to read more about Cornerstone’s The State of Workplace Productivity Report.

Also be sure to check out the four-part blog series on our site from Glen Hiemstra, international author and expert on future trends and the founder and CEO of Futurist.com. Glen will be sharing his thoughts on the future of work and the implications of the survey results for workplace productivity.

The first post kicks off today and will run through the end of the month. 

 

1. Older Generations = Gen X, Baby Boomers, Traditionalists