Quickbase Survey: Work is Harder and Less Meaningful than Ever, and Everybody Knows It

More than half – 54% – of workers surveyed feel it's harder than ever to be productive in their day-to-day work and 58% spend less than half a typical work week on meaningful work that drive results; AI could be a solution, but only if key steps are taken to ensure the right foundation

BOSTON, MA – April 16, 2024 – If you find yourself working harder, and longer, than ever, trapped inside workflows and processes that make you feel less productive than before, you are not alone. According to a recent survey by Quickbase, the software application platform for dynamic work management, over half (54%) of 1923 workers in the US and UK feel it is harder than ever to be productive in their day-to-work – even as their organizations ramp up investments in technology tools and software to enhance productivity, work management and collaboration.

These – and other – findings are available today in the second annual “The Gray Work Index,” Quickbase’s yearly look at productivity and how work gets done, and the impacts of Gray Work, the time and resources lost when work is done using ad-hoc solutions and workarounds when technology does not work for employees or teams. Looking across a dozen complex, operationally and process-driven industries (including Construction, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and others), the survey sought to uncover the ways in which disconnected data and information, outmoded and ineffective processes and workflows, and too many technology tools lead employees to feel overwhelmed, ineffective, and frustrated.

A closer look at these indicators reveals just how hard it is to get to the work that drives meaningful outcomes:

  • Overwhelmed by technology - 94% of respondents reported feeling overwhelmed by the number of software solutions they need to use every day to get their work done (up from 87% in 2023);
  • Too much manual work - 74% of those surveyed say the amount of manual work has either stayed the same or increased compared to one year ago.
  • Less time for impactful work - 58% say they spend less than half a typical work week on meaningful work that drives results.
  • Hard to get what they need - 45% of respondents say they spend 11+ hours every week chasing information across their organization.

“Our survey confirms a trend that we have been following for the last year – the disconnect between being busy and being truly productive,” said Ed Jennings, CEO of Quickbase. “Productivity is not an abstract idea, and neither is Gray Work. They are real, tangible, and can be measured by outcomes and impacts related to efficiency, engagement, and profitability. There is a clear opportunity here to examine every aspect of how your organization meets deadlines, delivers on projects, and creates the repeatable processes that can lead to consistent and valuable results.”

Too Many Tools, Not Enough Answers – Could AI Help?

Work has changed; where it was once structured, linear, and mostly predictable, it is now dynamic, with multiple stakeholders, flexible and fast-changing deadlines, and new sources and inputs altering projects and deliverables at speed and scale. Organizations and workers have, at their fingertips and mouse-clicks, a whole new class of tools and solutions meant to make it easier to get work done in this new world. According to Quickbase’s survey, 66% of respondents reported that organizations increased investments in tools/software to enhance productivity, work management and collaboration.

Yet all those tools and solutions might be having the opposite effect. Over the last year, survey respondents cited miscommunication (44%), duplication of work (43%) and project delays (42%) as the top three challenges to meeting deadlines for project delivery and completion. Project management seems a major challenge, as almost 70% of respondents say the use of multiple project management software solutions makes it harder to share project-related information with others. As a result, just 10% of respondents say they are "extremely confident" in the accuracy of the key project information in their current software solutions, while the remaining 90% express some level of doubt.

With the advent of AI – so heavily dependent on data inputs to realize its true potential – into the modern workplace, there has never been a more critical focus on solving this problem of disconnected information. According to Quickbase’s survey, curiosity levels are high (92%) when it comes to the potential of AI-powered tools to enhance productivity and work efficiency, and they believe AI can improve how work gets done in their organization. As a result, half of all respondents expect to see their organization’s budget for AI increase this year.

But that curiosity, belief and expectation are tempered concerns that a failure to address these core issues related to connectivity and governance of data/information, teams, and workflows will leave AI’s potential unrealized. Impacts from AI on data security, compliance, or privacy risks – key pieces of the connected data puzzle – have 94% of survey respondents concerned (slightly to extremely), and 42% named those factors as the largest barrier to the adoption of AI by their organization, higher than implementation costs or perceived ROI.

“Whether we’re ready or not, AI is here and is likely already in your tech stack,” continued Jennings. “Its benefits are obvious, from automating tasks and processes to using LLMs to deliver insights that drive projects. But AI is only as valuable as the data it uses and systems it has access to. Taking the time to establish a clear foundation, with a governance strategy focused on connecting disparate silos improving reliability, will reward that optimism for, and investment in, AI to elevate productivity and deliver meaningful outputs that drive impact.”

Quickbase’s “The Gray Work Index” surveyed 1,923 workers in the United States and the United Kingdom & Ireland in February 2024. Respondents included employees from more than a dozen operationally complex industries, including construction, manufacturing, professional services, healthcare, and state & local government.

For more on “The Gray Work Index” and to measure Gray Work in your own organization, visit www.quickbase.com/blog/gray-work-index-2024.

About Quickbase

Quickbase is the first application platform built for Dynamic Work Management, empowering more than 12,000 global organizations to bring together people, processes, and data into one centralized location. The Quickbase platform enhances productivity and reduces Gray Work, the time lost when searching for data and information, by connecting everything through a single source of truth. With automated workflows and granular permissions, the right people will have access to the right information, mitigating risk, reducing waste, and trimming unexpected costs. Quickbase was founded in 1999 and is based in Boston (MA). For more information, visit www.quickbase.com. Quickbase – All together now.

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For more, contact:

Christian Potts


E: [email protected]