What do current UK work trends tell us about our future?

What do current UK work trends tell us about our future?

Those who pay no attention to the present are doomed to remain stuck there. That’s not quite how the saying goes, but you get the idea. Keeping an eye on how things are trending today, and comparing those results to previous years, is the best way to prepare for the future—insofar as that is possible.

That’s why Workfront polls U.K. marketers and enterprise workers annually. In our latest State of Marketing Work report, we’ve collected current perceptions of work, productivity, office culture, communication, technology, and more, so organiszations can use these insights to make sense of the present and effect meaningful change.

Here are three important insights uncovered in our latest report.

1. The real work is falling by the wayside

After email, meetings and administrative tasks, UK marketers have on average, just 36% of their time left to perform their primary job duties, on average. This statistic is even a little worse than last year’s, where a strong majority (61%) spent less than half of their time doing the jobs they were hired to do. But all is not lost. This trend can be reversed by targeting two simple barriers: excessive email and unnecessary meetings, which occupy 18% and 9% of the time wheel, respectively.

If companies could eliminate wasteful meetings altogether and cut email time in half, workers would have 54% of their time to do the “real” work. In such a scenario, the future would look decidedly brighter.

How can they do this? By fixing internal processes and replacing email with today’s powerful, archiveable and far more efficient collaboration tools—from simple systems like Trello and Slack to comprehensive work-management solutions like Workfront.

2. Office irritations may be driving workers away

With 39% of workers feeling annoyed by co-workers who talk too loud and 42% shivering in offices that are too cold, remote working is looking more and more appealing to today’s UK workforce.

When we asked what was the best way to improve their productivity, the top answer was “uninterrupted blocks of time.” Given that 34% of U.K. marketers say their most productive time of day is before normal business hours, with another 46% saying they’re most productive between 9 and 11, why not harness these peak productivity conditions by regularly allowing workers to work remotely before lunch (where they can avoid interruptions, control the temperature and hide away from loud co-workers)? Talk about a win-win-win.

Given the above findings, it’s not surprising that 60% of UK workers believe (or hope?) that most workers will be working remotely in as little as 5 years. The best way to prepare for this eventuality is to have “more efficient work processes” in place, which was the second most popular answer to the “what would make you more productive” question.

3. Co-Worker Connections Remain Strong

Although remote working is predicted to rise, UK workers really like their fellow employees. A full 72% gave a smiley face emoji to “dealing with your co-workers” (compared to just 60% of U.S. marketers [TL1] who felt the same way). So even as workers begin working in a more physically decentraliszed way, they will likely maintain strong ties via live-chatting apps, collaboration tools, and project management software.

In fact, these tech connections will be increasingly essential in the workplace of the future. But they’ll only work if the underlying processes are well outlined, fully transparent, and accessible from outside the office walls.

What Does the Future Hold?

The distant future always has a way of surprising us. After all, the prognosticators of 30 years ago expected us to be driving around in flying cars, not carrying around pocket-sized supercomputers. But we can extrapolate today’s state of work data to better prepare ourselves and our teams for the more immediate future, where it will be important to eliminate distractions, embrace more flexible work schedules, and employ processes and tools that allow us to gradually untether ourselves from the centraliszed office spaces of the present.

By Jada Balster, Marketing Director, Workfront

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