The Digital Workplace Productivity Report 2021

US Edition

The workplace as we know it is changing fast across the world. To understand the key challenges digital workers are facing today and to know what’s keeping them from achieving high levels of productivity, at Kissflow, we ran a global Digital Workplace Survey that sought to gauge the benefits, issues, challenges, and opportunities among organizations that have moved to digital workplaces. All individuals who participated in this survey work at organizations ranging in size from 10 – 500 that have wholly or partly moved to digital work. The 100 respondents who participated were knowledge workers spread across North America. All of them used some form of a digital workplace to collaborate with their colleagues and transact work on a daily basis.


Do digital workplaces enhance productivity? What tools are popular among organizations that have moved to digital work? Are digital workplaces the future of work?

When it comes to digital workplaces, there are more questions than there are answers and the list keeps growing by the day. At Kissflow, we decided these questions need answers. The Kissflow Digital Workplace Survey, 2021 seeks to do just that. We created a poll that was answered by a wide cross-section of information workers across various industries that use digital work platforms to conduct, collaborate, transact and accomplish work. What they had to say throws some interesting light on the benefits and challenges of digital work.

Scroll on to find some of the key takeaways from the data we gleaned through the survey.


  • Too many tools are a way bigger problem than you’d think.

What would you think about hopping between half a dozen different apps to accomplish one task? Nearly 44.3% of respondents surveyed confirmed that more tools complicate their work lives. The rest were split between excessive notifications, too many meetings and interestingly, all of the above formed a significant chunk at 23.7%.


  • Emails might be boring, but they’re certainly not dead.

As much as they’re despised as a monolithic collaboration nightmare, an interesting finding in the survey was that emails are still the most popular tool when it comes to digital work. Nearly 82.9% of those surveyed reported emails to be an indispensable part of digital work while other work collaboration tools came in at 10.5%.


  • If more tools are the problem, then the numbers matter.

So we’ve identified that more tools are a big problem. How big of a problem are they? Luckily one of the core findings from the survey point to a large number of organizations, nearly 84.2%, using less than half a dozen applications for digital work. The ones with bigger problems were those that used up to 10 applications for work. Luckily that’s only 15.8%.


  • Chasing productivity can be hard. Here’s a tip to finding it. 

Tools, and more tools complicate work. They’re the most blamed cause in losses of productivity at 55.3%. However, there were more interesting findings. Almost 43.4% of respondents said productivity would gain a huge boost if meetings became more concise and efficient. Other findings were a tilt towards “no meeting” days and lesser chat.


  • The most hated thing about digital work isn’t surprising at all.

If information is power, looking for it is a nightmare according to 51.3% of respondents. This points to a need to uncomplicate the search process and create a more streamlined path to information. Interestingly, switching between tabs and replying to emails were also equally despised. However, meetings ranked lowest on the list of things that needed to go.


The many tools of digital mayhem.

Too many tools are one of the most stated reasons for losses in productivity in digital workplaces. With this upcoming question, we also uncovered the other usual suspects.

  1. What do you believe leads to the greatest productivity drop at your workplace?

Although not an entirely unknown fact, a large number of respondents stated the obvious. Too many tools are the No.1 killer of digital work productivity, closely followed by too many meetings and excessive notifications that killed time. 


The surprising thing about email.

As far as surprises go, this one takes the cake. As old-school as email is, it still continues to be the most popular tool to communicate within organizations even if it’s not the most efficient pick. 

      2. What tool / app / platform do you use for internal communication?

An almost three decade old technology is still going strong. Email is still the most favourite application for internal communication in digital workplaces while other popular collaboration tools come in at a distant fourth.


Workplaces are getting smarter.

Now that we’ve established that more tools kill productivity sooner than anything else, we just need to see the numbers to know how organizations fare by the amount of tools they operate. 

        3.How many tools do you use on a daily basis to carry out tasks such as approvals, task management, collaboration,              communication, etc.?

Obviously, most organizations are already catching on to the trend of lesser tools for digital work. A vast majority of them use less than a half dozen tools for digital work. Most will eventually move to unified platforms.


The holy grail of productivity.

What do organizations need to do to achieve maximum productivity? This one threw up some interesting insights. Context switching and endless meetings topped the charts here.

      4.Which of these would have the most impact on the productivity of your teams?

Context switching is the biggest killer of productivity. Most digital workers say switching between tools eats up precious work time leaving them with less time to focus on actual work. There’s also avoiding endless meetings, among other things.


Identifying what needs to go.

Just as important as knowing what a digital workplace needs, is knowing what it doesn’t. This twister had respondents give us interesting insights into what needs to go away for it to work.

    5. If you could remove one thing from your digital workplace, what do you believe would help you work without distractions?

Spending time searching for information was the No.1 peeve of digital workers. A better way to address this is a pressing necessity. This was closely followed by replying to emails. Interestingly, workers who preferred email communication didn’t want to reply to them.


The Way Ahead

Digital workplaces are the future of work and businesses that undergo successful digital transformations will be leading the market landscapes of this decade. Here, we give you a gist of recommendations and things to do to create the ideal digital workspace.

  • Migrate to a unified digital work platform.

The easiest way to centralize work, minimize distractions, improve productivity and create employee happiness is by migrating to a unified digital work platform. Such a platform would put your business on the fastest path to growth and efficiency by automating mundane tasks, giving you powerful oversight with analytics, a wide range of tools for work and everything you need to accomplish work productively from anywhere, anytime and on any device.


  • Collaboration is a powerful tool. Use it right.

Work collaboration is changing and the buzzword of the decade is contextual collaboration. With a unified digital workplace platform, collaboration becomes so much more than what you think it is. With polls, posts, comments, chat, social features and messaging, a digital workplace gives you endless opportunities to fine tune work efficiency and harness the power of contextual collaboration. When your employees engage better, they work better and faster.


  • Build a workplace you want to work in.

Not happy with switching between tools? Neither are most of your employees. A system that is broken and uses multiple apps is never ideal in the race to success. It is well established that businesses that use more than half a dozen apps to work are a minority and they will be overtaken by those that are leaner and more efficient. The right number of tools for digital work? One. Switch to a unified digital workplace platform as soon as you can.


  • More efficient meetings and no switching tabs.

Seeing as most employees suggest that meetings and context switching are the top killers of productivity, that must be one of the first things you might need to address when it comes to improving workplace efficiency. With a unified digital workplace platform, you can reduce context switching, but making meetings more efficient is more of a culture thing. Work on bringing in a digital culture to your organization where meetings are smarter, concise and efficient. 


  • Figure out what needs to go, and do it.

The amount of time employees spend looking for the information they need to perform their jobs is money and resources down the drain. A more efficient system or platform where employees can find all the information they need within a few clicks is what businesses need to succeed at work. A unified digital workplace platform gives you exactly that and so much more. No more replying to emails or switching between tabs when communication is contextual.


Work can bring many levels of complexity. Discover the power of simple with Kissflow Digital Workplace.


Inquiries about this poll can be directed to: [email protected]

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