What is Gray Work?

Gray work: The hidden work behind your projects

An illustration representing disparate, redundant systems

Gray work’s challenges and impact

"Gray work” is the work done in ad-hoc solutions to make do and get by when your technology doesn't work for you. It is in systems that aren’t connected, it is built on the fly, and it is not conducive to strong collaboration. It impacts revenue, productivity, and employee frustration at scale.

From structured to dynamic work

We are entering a new age of workforce productivity, AI, automation, and no-code solutions have fundamentally changed the digital work landscape, and it’s driving a massive shift in the way we work — from the old Structured work to the new Dynamic work. Dynamic work is flexible, multi-dimensional, multi-stakeholder, and complex.
While the organizations that are thriving are embracing this new world and becoming dynamic enterprises, those who are yet to adapt are stuck finding workarounds and shortcuts. That’s where gray work has come in.

Eliminating gray work

Without visibility and connection between your systems and people, gray work will continue to be the primary way teams accomplish projects. Leading organizations are removing the risks of gray work by moving away from manual systems like spreadsheets and using platforms like Quickbase that enable dynamic work.
They can get the right information at the right time, manage all of that work seamlessly, and orchestrate their complex projects in one central tool.

Now’s the time to eliminate gray work.

Reduce information overload

Get the right information at the right time, no matter where you work, and how you work, across devices.

Do away with fragmentation

Easily manage information and all your resources — whether digital or physical — across locations and diverse teams

Tap into your full employee potential

Allow your people to innovate like never before.
A lot of end users have no idea how much gray work is involved in bringing them a solution.
Ann Swelgin
Business Application Developer, GrantWorks

Frequently asked questions

Gray work eliminates the ability to effectively collaborate, as data and processes are stuck in disconnected, separate systems. It also causes risks for an organization, with data held in systems that may not be secure. Lastly, with different teams having different sets of data, it can cause duplicate work or mismatched data, ultimately leading to project delays, budget overages, and lost revenue.

According to McKinsey, organizations are leaving $900 billion in productivity on the table due to miscommunications and time spent gathering information.

Manual systems or systems that are disconnected are the biggest culprits for gray work. Offline spreadsheets in Excel or spreadsheets in personal folders can be a major challenge when people don’t have the centralized tools they need to get work done. People may also customize tools in a way that makes it inaccessible to others in the organization, again removing any chance for connection.

More than anything, continued frustration with tools and processes is your biggest tell that gray work is a challenge.

Giving people the tools and capabilities they need to accomplish their most complex projects will remove the need for gray work. Using a platform purpose-built for dynamic work, like Quickbase, will remove gray work from people’s processes and give your organization the connectivity and control it needs to become a dynamic enterprise.