A new remote workforce has become the byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some employees, the shift has been fairly seamless, for others, it’s been a struggle. Of employees now working remotely, almost one in four reported the adjustment to new technology as being very to moderately difficult, according to a new study by Office Depot.
Additionally, 46% said new workplace tech negatively impacts productivity in the short term, especially those at large companies, the survey found. The office retailer defined new technology as “any hardware, software, programs, or tools that require time to learn.”
The average employee uses 10 different technologies as part of their regular job responsibilities, according to the study six digital and four physical. Most are required to learn new technologies on a quarterly basis, although large employers (1,000 or more employees) introduced new technologies less frequently, the study said.
One of the most interesting findings was that most employees are required to learn a new workplace technology quarterly, but three in 25 reported they are learning a new technology weekly, according to Stephen Mohan, executive vice president of Office Depot’s business solutions division.
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“It was also reassuring to see that 92% of respondents agree that technology improves productivity over the long term,” Mohan said.
Not surprisingly, since the pandemic began, 44% of respondents working remotely reported their employers have introduced telecommunication or conferencing technologies, followed by file or record management and Microsoft Office suite (27% each).
While employees working onsite were more likely to use tools and machinery, payment processing systems, and mobile devices, remote workers are more likely to use developer tools, telecommunication/conference, and business analytics tools, according to the study.
Employees’ attitude toward new workplace tech
“Employees had a generally positive attitude when adapting to new workplace technologies,” the study said. “Even entry- and associate-level employees were rarely frustrated when their positions required additional learning.”
Notably, senior managers demonstrated a shorter fuse: 49% of senior managers experienced moderate to high levels of frustration with new technologies, compared with just 30% of entry-level workers, according to the study.
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“Perhaps senior managers tend to be older and are less familiar with current technologies. Or maybe they have more on their plates, and an additional learning requirement feels particularly frustrating,” the study suggested.
Overall, more than one in three employees reported being very or moderately frustrated with new workplace technologies while 66% reported being slightly or not at all frustrated. Remote employees were slightly less likely to be frustrated than onsite office workers.
Almost 70% of employees desired more training when new technologies are introduced to the workplace–44% desire more support from IT, the study said.
“Even though respondents expressed some difficulty adapting to new technologies, they were overall understanding of their company’s long-term goals,” the study noted. “Employees’ attitudes toward new technologies were largely positive, although supervisors and more experienced employees struggled more. However, difficulty learning something shouldn’t be the primary reason to stop a new endeavor.”
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And employees agreed that technology simplifies their jobs, especially since the pandemic began. According to one 31-year-old respondent, “Technology enables efficient testing and data processing. For instance, we have old software that takes a day to analyze products. Some of our new technologies can do the same amount of work in about 45 minutes.”
Responses to the survey of 1,008 employed people in the US were collected on April 1, Office Depot said.