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Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era
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In the last twenty years, workplace decision-making has gradually shifted from intuition and senior executives' opinions to data-driven approaches that use metrics to assess performance and monitor progress. Our most recent survey shows that this shift is going strong.  

This whitepaper dives into the findings of the Slingshot’s Digital Work Trends Report by: 

  • Giving insights into key trends shaping the future of work  
  • Highlighting the critical areas for organizations to focus on as they embrace the digital era. 
  • Why basing decisions on data and not on gut alone is a prerequisite for success for modern companies. 

Keep reading for the full scoop on adapting and successfully applying data strategies to foster an innovation culture. 

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What is The Digital Work Trends Report

The Digital Work Trends Report explores the evolving nature of work in the digital age, drawing upon analysis from various industries and regions. We surveyed 305 full-time U.S. employees to understand better how workers across generations use data in their jobs. 

The fundamental explorations – and findings – of The Digital Work Trends Report involve the premise that data replaces “the loudest voice in the room” when making decisions in the modern workplace. This slowly leads companies and their people into a new era of decision-making. It also drives leaders and workers of today to search for a better, more intuitive way to discover and rely on insights. 

The report’s main goal was to explore the relationship between productivity and workers’ access to data – which provided a glimpse into when workers feel most productive, how they make decisions, how often they use data, what makes them more effective, and more. 

Emphasis on Data for Productivity

According to the Slingshot Digital Work Trends Report, seventy-two percent of professionals (72%) say their productivity depends more on metrics that track performance and progress than working independently or autonomously. The increasing focus on using measurable criteria to assess performance in the workplace is undeniable. Today, it seems that employees perceive metrics as more critical indicators of productivity and effectiveness than anything else. This highlights the significance of data-driven approaches to evaluating performance immensely.  

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

For years, companies have prioritized improving workplace flexibility, but it turns out their priorities do not align with what drives workers’ productivity.

Only 39% of workers say independent working improves their productivity, and 27% say the same about autonomy. 

The effect companies can have on their employees’ productivity levels does not stop there. Juggling project volume and priorities can hinder your organization’s productivity.  

This is what 65% of workers say in the report – that lacking data and information harms their productivity the most. The negative impact for them is felt in the inability to do their jobs, coupled with having too many projects (which is what 37% of people say) and constant notifications across multiple applications (35%). As a conclusion, access to relevant data and information enables employees to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively. 

Clarity in Priorities and Deadlines = Fewer Check-Ins

Amidst the strategies employers adopt to monitor progress and boost productivity, there’s an interesting revelation from employees. According to them, clarity in priorities (42%) and adherence to set deadlines (30%) would significantly enhance their productivity, surpassing the impact of frequent check-ins. This could lead to fewer weekly meetings and employees feeling less micromanaged, but instead empowered. 

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

And even though companies have long prioritized enhancing workplace flexibility, the focus must align with the factors driving workers’ productivity. Only 19% of employees feel that having more frequent check-ins with their manager or team would contribute to their productivity. So, there is a fascinating gap between the tried-and-true methods of managerial leadership and the real desires of employees when it comes to boosting productivity. It’s a tale of two worlds colliding—one rooted in tradition, the other driven by today’s workforce’s evolving needs and preferences. 

Data-Driven Decisions in the Workplace

According to Slingshot’s report, even though half of workers (56%) say they gather and use data to make business decisions, there is still 12% of workers saying they make decisions by asking the most senior person in the business or department, and 6% of workers admit to using their gut instinct. 

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

Unfortunately, this is not too surprising when we know that the data used to inform specific decisions is still not readily accessible within many organizations, easily readable, or available at all to people who are not C-level employees. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. According to Slingshot’s report, more organizations are leveraging data analytics tools and metrics to drive decision-making across various functions, reflecting a broader trend toward evidence-based practices. These tools drive transparency and ease of access to the insights they need so decisions are quickly made and relevant to the findings. 

Gen Z, the Data Generation

Gen Z, often dubbed the “data generation,” is characterized by its unique relationship with data. Gen Z individuals, naturally inclined towards data-centric approaches in the workplace, have grown up in a highly digitalized and data-driven world. One hundred percent (100%) of Gen Z workers say they use data at work at least a few times a week, with 61% saying they use it daily. Another interesting distinction is that nearly three-fourths (74%) of Gen Z workers use data to improve performance, and only 61% of Boomer workers (age 59+) say the same.

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

Our report also says that Gen Z workers are much more likely than other segments to use data insights to understand customer behavior and needs (61%). At the same time, employers can tap into this inherent familiarity with data by providing opportunities for Gen Z workers to apply their data skills and insights in their roles, fostering a more engaging and productive work environment. 

Data Improves Performance

Data is pivotal in empowering individual workers to excel in their roles, fostering greater efficiency and effectiveness. This benefits individual performance, drives synergies, and boosts overall team and company performance. 

Interestingly, a whopping 72% of workers leverage data insights to enhance their performance. Moreover, more than half of workers (54%) utilize data to prioritize goals, while 46% utilize it to craft strategic plans and gain insights into customer behaviors and needs. 

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

Other Generations and Data

When it comes to navigating priorities at work, interesting patterns emerge across different age groups. Almost half (49%) of Millennial workers (ages 27-42) find themselves guessing what’s most important, while 33% of Boomer workers (ages 59+) and 35% of Gen X + Y workers (ages 43-58) prefer to have the freedom to choose their tasks. 

Gen Z workers (ages 18-26) showcase a different approach, possibly due to their early career stage and hesitancy in making significant decisions. Most (55%) of Gen Z workers prefer communicating with their colleagues to identify priorities. 

Additionally, there are notable differences in approach between males and females. While 43% of females prioritize communication with colleagues to identify priorities, 45% of males prefer to have autonomy in choosing tasks. 

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

At the same time, 40% of all employees (male and female) communicate with colleagues to identify priorities, and a sizable portion (34%) would still resort to guesswork. And despite the common practice of frequent check-ins to monitor progress and enhance productivity, employees express that clear priorities (42%) and set deadlines (30%) would contribute more significantly to their productivity.  

Lack of Clarity Results in Trouble

Employees grapple with overload and lack of guidance, resulting in significant productivity loss. A staggering 64% of employees report losing at least 1-2 productive hours daily due to the absence of deadlines, with 22% experiencing losses of 3-4 hours each day. The lost time typically goes to activities that do not directly contribute to the completion of tasks and processes. It may also result in procrastination on the part of the workers or the prioritization of less urgent tasks over more important ones. 

Even further, there lies a tale of struggle and triumph in the intricate dance of productivity and project management. According to the report, productivity takes a hit when employees juggle multiple projects. Sixty-two percent (62%) of employees confess to losing at least 1-2 productive hours daily due to project overload. And for 20%, the burden is even greater, with losses stretching beyond 3 hours, a testament to the sheer weight of their workload. 

But in the midst of it all, there is a beacon of hope: leadership intervention. More than half of leaders feel compelled to closely supervise employees who struggle to deliver quality work (69%) or meet deadlines (52%). It’s obvious that leadership intervention becomes necessary when employees fail to meet expectations. 

Understanding Digital Work Trends in the Modern Era

Additionally, when challenges arise, be it with co-workers or specific individuals, leaders stand ready to lend a helping hand. 50% of leaders feel the need to step in when team members encounter challenges with co-workers or specific individuals, indicating a commitment to fostering a harmonious and productive work environment. 

The Digital Work Trends Report sheds light on the transformative impact of data on the future of work. Key findings emphasize the importance of data-driven decision-making, with employees increasingly relying on metrics to gauge productivity and effectiveness. 

Slingshot Puts Data at the Heart of Productivity

Slingshot is a data-driven work management tool that empowers teams to coordinate and collaborate without interruption while enabling real-time strategic decision-making through data features.  

Easy Access to Data for Everyone 

Position data as your company’s ultimate source of truth to eliminate speculation and guesswork. In Slingshot, data is easily accessible and easy to use for all users, regardless of their data or tech knowledge. Through visualizations bringing the data from multiple data sources into one, Slingshot allows business users to view and analyze their data in the same place they collaborate. Moreover, thanks to the dashboard templates in Slingshot, insights can be created with a few clicks – all you need to do is connect to your data source and have a ready-to-use dashboard at your fingertips. 

Productivity Boosts 

Go from dashboards directly to a task or a chat with a click, or pin important dashboards to your workspaces so people can view them quickly for reference. Slingshot interconnects all elements of your productive workflow. Stop the overload of applications and never lose valuable hours again by keeping your data, collaboration, and project management in one place. 

To have a quick demo or a conversation on how data can benefit your organization and bring more clarity and smarter decision-making, you can contact us here. 

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