UK office workers hopeful about the “promise” of digital, despite mixed results of COVID-driven changes


New research from Citrix has revealed that while the majority (76%) of UK office workers experienced changes to both their workplace technology and culture in 2020, these changes left almost a third (30%) of those employees more frustrated at work.

Despite this, employees remain hopeful about what a better use of digital technology can offer. The majority (92%) are confident that their own employer’s workplace technology and work culture either already delivers, or will eventually deliver, on the “promise” of digital, i.e., increased productivity, more innovation and a better employee experience.

The poll, conducted by 3GEM and quizzing 1,000 UK office workers in large businesses, questioned employees on how their workplace culture and technology had changed in 2020 and the impact of these changes on productivity and employee engagement levels. The survey also gauged whether these COVID-driven changes had influenced their views on how technology could affect the future of work at their organisation. To gain an accurate understanding of how their workplace technology set-up and working practices changed due to COVID-19, this survey only polled office workers who have worked with their current employers since at least 2019.


Mixed results of COVID-driven digital investments

 Major changes were implemented and felt by the UK workforce in 2020: 78% of respondents stated that their employer provided funds for new technology or changed the technology they made available for staff to do their jobs last year. Working styles also evolved, with over a third (36%) admitting remote or flexible working was not an option before 2020, yet was encouraged last year.

The poll revealed that for many, these changes brought welcome improvements. Before COVID-19, two-fifths (42%) of UK office workers described their workplace technology set-up as “adequate” only, as it didn’t let them fulfil their potential. Yet, for those who experienced changes to workplace technology in 2020, six in 10 (59%) agree it improved their work experience. Similarly, of those whose companies enabled and encouraged remote working during 2020, almost two thirds (64%) feel it improved their work experience.

However, UK investments to change workplace technology and culture brought mixed results. While more than half (53%) describe their workplace technology before COVID-19 as “premium” – it enabled them to be as productive as possible – this dropped to 45% when describing their current working scenario, reflecting a step backward last year. Additionally, 38% admit that alterations to their workplace technology last year either didn’t change, or simultaneously improved and worsened, their work experience.

The findings suggest that COVID may also have exacerbated the digital divide between organisations. Those businesses which already offered “premium” or “adequate” technology pre-COVID were able to make changes in 2020 which improved the work experience for their employees (66% and 53% respectively). However, only 38% of employees who had worked with “substandard” technology pre-COVID felt changes in 2020 improved their work experience.


The impact of technology on employee experience

 Nearly half (45%) of UK office workers agree that despite changes during the COVID pandemic making them more productive, they are more fed up with work than ever before. Two thirds (64%) admit workplace technology is a key factor in their job satisfaction, yet poor workplace technology has left 45% feeling disillusioned with their employer and their future at the organisation. In total, just 9% believe the digital tools and technology set-up currently available to them allows them to reach their full potential.