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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