The Workplace Has Plenty of Trust, Inefficiency, Lack of Training

Employees feel surprisingly trusted but inefficiencies abound in how American workers go about their workday.

Nine out of 10 full-time U.S. employees believe their boss trusts them to get the job done, no matter where and when they work. But amid this tech-aided flexibility, inefficiencies abound in the way workers use technology and communicate, according to a study commissioned by Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit and co-sponsored by Citrix.

Employees were evenly split between where they said they do most of their work. One-third work remotely, 34% work in a cube or open-office environment and 28% in a private office. Men continue to represent the majority of teleworkers—60% in 2015—and the percentage of women increased significantly, to 39%, from 29% in 2013.

Even while workplace patterns and work habits are changing, the training and infrastructure to support flexible work arrangements is lagging. Video or Web conferencing and project management technologies are increasingly common, but used infrequently.

Nearly 60% of respondents say they frequently use email, Word documents or spreadsheets to update colleagues about work progress and performance. Slightly fewer (55%) meet in person and 43% use the phone. Generation Y (59%) and Generation X (58%) were more likely than Baby Boomers (46%) to frequently meet in person to keep others informed.

Those who work remotely were more likely to use the phone than those who work in a cube or open office. Meanwhile, those onsite were more likely to use email, Word documents or spreadsheets. Employees were inconsistent in where they saved and stored work across company and personal platforms.

Almost seven out 10 employees feel the increase in workplace technology has made it easier to collaborate and communicate with colleagues, and more than half of respondents said it has made it easier to work flexibly. More than one in four (28%) said the increase in technology has created more work, and the nearly one-fourth that noted this feels a “bit like Big Brother is watching you,” with men significantly more likely than women to voice that view.

In 2015, almost all full-time U.S. employees had some type of work life flexibility, unchanged from 2013 and 2011. Most of that flexibility is informal, with six out of 10 making occasional changes in how, when and where they work, an increase from 2013. Employees feel increasingly positive with a majority (56%) that noted their employer still has a strong commitment to work/life flexibility.

Among other findings:

  • Eight out of 10 employees have never used project management software and two-thirds have never used video/web conferencing.
  • Almost half (47%) received training or guidance to help manage their work life flexibility in 2015, but more than half (52%) remained on their own with no instruction.
  • Those who use flexibility informally received less training than those with formal flexible work arrangements.