Digital Etiquette Study Highlights The Rise Of Australia’s “Invisible Workforce”

Digital Etiquette Study Highlights The Rise Of Australia’s “Invisible Workforce”

The 2021 Digital Etiquette Study by digital transformation agency Adaptavist highlights that 48 per cent of Australian workers want to come back to the workplace/office full-time, while 42 per cent favour a flexible/hybrid model.

Only 10 per cent of Australians want to be remote full-time. 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 study includes survey responses from 600-plus knowledge workers across Australia. (The study also ran in Canada, the UK and US, with a total of 4,454 respondents.)

“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 72 per cent of Australians 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 four responses were:

  • 29 per cent say leaders need to show more empathy for employees
  • 22 per cent want to be asked for employee feedback on the way work has changed post Covid, which tied with a request for transparency of organisational strategy from leadership.
  • 21 per cent want to be asked for employee feedback on the tools being used.

Also, 20 per cent 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 for Australians was more training and learning opportunities (38 per cent). The second most identified need was better tools, software and hardware to do the job (35 per cent). Thirdly, employees want their managers to be more realistic (34 per cent).

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

  • 35 per cent of employees miss working side-by-side with their team
  • 24 per cent miss chance meetings with colleagues they don’t work with directly for social reasons
  • 24 per cent 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 37 per cent actively pursuing finding a new job outside of their current organisation. Of those respondents, 66 per cent 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 (57 per cent), has led to new challenges in the workplace including the following key findings:

  • 56 per cent 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
  • 48 per cent stated that their organisation has too many tools/software requirements
  • 47 per cent said their organisation has too many tools that perform the same function
  • 48 per cent claimed they spend too much time navigating between tools to do their job efficiently
  • 54 per cent are familiar with the term ‘task switching’ and of those, 60 per cent say they feel they lose time during the day due to switching tasks across digital tools
  • 34 per cent are familiar with the term ‘tool fatigue’ and of those, 63 per cent  say they lose time during their workday due to tool fatigue.



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