Non-IT workers consider themselves digital experts

Reliance on digital collaboration tools and IT self-service requirements changed workers’ relationships to technology.

A recent Gartner survey shows today’s office workers consider themselves digital technology experts since COVID-19 has created heavy reliance on digital collaboration tools and self-service IT requirements.

The survey showed nearly one in five workers (18 per cent) consider themselves to be digital technology experts since COVID-19, while over half consider themselves proficient.

According to Whit Andrews distinguished research vice president at Gartner, the increased reliance on digital collaboration tools and lack of in-person IT support while working remotely altered many workers’ relationships to technology.

“Workers seized on the crisis to improve their mastery of a wide range of technologies and applications in the space of a few months,” said Andrews. “Today’s workplace is vastly different from 2019’s, and CIOs must prepare their technology stacks, office spaces, IT teams and mindsets to embrace the new future of the digital workplace.”

The Gartner survey also found that digital workers increased their reliance on portable devices during 2020. Workers reported an 11 per cent increase in the proportion of their work time spent on laptops, smartphones, or tablets. The proportion of their time spent on desktops declined by eight per cent. However, there was also a rise in the number of workers using personal technology for work purposes.

Over half of respondents reported that they use applications or web services that they personally obtained – most of which are employer-sanctioned – for collaborating with other workers. The same proportion (55 per cent) are using personally owned devices for their work at least some of the time.

“When organisations were forced to go remote in early 2020, workers started to rely on their own devices or programs they discovered themselves to make up for their employers’ technology shortcomings,” said Andrews. “In 2021, organizations can embrace this trend by expanding the choice of devices and software programs that workers can use with little or no friction.”

One of the main questions lingering among executives regarding the impacts of the last year is remote work’s effect on productivity.

According to the Gartner survey, among employees whose work-from-home time increased since January 2020, 36 per cent reported an increase in productivity, while 35 per cent reported no change. Flexibility in working hours was the most cited factor enabling greater productivity, selected by 43 per cent of respondents.

“Now that many workers have had a taste of the flexibility that remote work offers, it will be a key factor in hiring and talent acquisition,” noted Andrews. “In fact, 69 per cent of workers in our survey said they were more likely to consider a new role that allows them to work from a location of their choice, and 64 per cent were more likely to consider a role that allows for flexible hours.”

A quarter of workers surveyed did report that their productivity fell. Connectivity issues and technology changes were among the top reasons cited for decreased productivity.

“Digital proficiency becomes even more essential for productivity when working remotely,” he said. “CIOs should extend worker-to-worker lateral mentoring and training to ensure that no employees are left behind as technology mastery becomes the expectation.”







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