Mavenlink has published some initial insights from its Future of Work survey which it will release in March. These initial insights focus around workplace culture. This included looking at things that inhibit workplace culture as well as how to improve it. The study was supported by Atomik Research, it surveyed 1,002 individuals employed full-time in a business/corporate environment.
The survey data released to Enterprise Times only broke down the respondents by age group, rather than seniority. While this provides some insights it may also hide some. For example there may be correlations across managers regardless of age.
Inhibitors of work culture
The study asked two questions:
- What do you believe are the top productivity killers at your job?
- What are your biggest pet-peeves in the workplace?
Across the whole survey three productivity killers stood out:
- Poor management/leadership (45%)
- Chatty coworkers (43%)
- Too many/unnecessary meetings (41%)
In terms of the age demographics split, all ages were concerned by poor management. The over 65’s were less concerned by chatty workers. Whether this was because of a smaller sample size or some other factors isn’t known. A qualitative follow up might have shed some light into this. On meetings, the younger the respondent, the lower the concern. This is possibly a reflection that those people spend less time in meetings or are learning more from them.
Regarding pet peeves, again there were three stand outs answers:
- Lazy Coworkers (47%)
- Bad attitude of coworkers/clients (42%)
- Poor communication skills (34%)
Of note was the next highest, “Loud conversations in common spaces, whether social or work-related” (24%). In the sense that it backs up the feeling about chatty coworkers interfering with productivity. In terms of differences due to age it is notable that the older the respondents the more disappointed they were by laziness.
The survey also asked what people disliked about their jobs. Data from this question was not available for review. However, Mavenlink noted that these three aspects ranked highest:
- Office politics (44%),
- Poor management/leadership (26%),
- Lack of transparency/hierarchy (25%).
It seems that the workplace still has a long way to go to reach an ideal state.
Overcoming the inhibitors
Mavenlink drew out a conclusion that team building is crucial to building a strong workplace culture. What is clear is that there should be a greater focus on soft skills training around management, communication, and meeting skills.
Ray Grainger, CEO and co-founder, Mavenlink commented: “Modern offices have different generations that must work together to achieve company goals. This survey report shows that, while there are many perceived differences in how generations approach maintaining productivity, age groups may be much more alike than we think. One way leaders can help bring the workforce together is by understanding how various age groups approach work and the importance they place on team building. Doing so will maximize productivity, increase retention rates and drive business success.”
What makes this survey, and the yet to be published study interesting is the nature of the other questions that then looked to ask how to improve culture.
There were two questions around the working environment:
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- If you work remotely all or part of the time, what is your primary work environment?
What would have made the answers more interesting is whether Mavenlink, which supports mobile working on mobile and tablet, asked about the preferred device for workers.
Despite the movement towards open plan offices people are clearly not bought into them completely. 45% would prefer a private office or cubicle. Is that because of those chatty workers? 24% want to work in an open plan of co-working space. There were less generational differences between preferences than one would expect. The younger generations 18-24, 25-34 are less likely to prefer a private office. However, they are also not overly optimistic about working in a co-working space. Only 4% of 18-24 year old expressed that preference compared to the 7% average.
Home working was preferred by 18% of respondents with little generational differences. If working remotely most (42%) preferred a dedicated home working space. The younger the respondent the more likely they are to prefer a co-working environment such as WeWork. However, 11% of all generations liked working on the couch. Perhaps the idea of installing couches in the office holds merit for a few. The problem with this conclusion is that they may prefer the couch because they have no where else to work.
Improving things in the workplace
The survey asked two questions that organisations can draw some insights from.
- What are the most important elements of a successful work culture?
- What would make you more productive at your job?
The three most important elements found by the survey were Work/life balance(62%), trust (53%) and team building 34%. Collaboration also scored a high 27%, with 21% also wanting better collaboration technology.
This is where the cross referencing of answers might have been useful. Collaboration technology becomes more important as people work remotely, did the survey show this?
Other areas that companies need to improve upon includes:
- Better management (38%)
- More flexibility for location and hours of work (36%)
- Training (29%)
- More efficient/targeted/structured meetings (29%)
Generational differences were few, especially when considering the sample set and margin of error. The over 65 age group provided some outlier, but this may have been due to a smaller sample size. That group want fewer meetings than anybody else (47% compared to the average 26%). They are also less fussed about flexibility (13%) and training (19%). However, with extending lives and the increasing retirement age that number may climb in the future.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean?
Mavenlink has provided some intriguing insights into the state of the workplace with this survey. It may hope that its collaborative platform which helps improve the operational and financial performance of modern organisations can be a part of any improvement. However, from the Enterprise Times perspective it feels that workplace culture is evolving slowly. There is still a reticence to move to home or remote working. This may be because humans are naturally social and while the chatty individuals are disliked by many, it is the opposite of isolated working environments. There are other areas the study could have looked at, notably the shift to agile working methodologies, i.e. biz ops.
When the full study appears, it will be interesting to see what other conclusions Mavenlink draws and what conclusions can be drawn from the wider data set.