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Slack study reveals UK business’ focus on performativity is impacting productivity 

Slack study reveals UK business’ focus on performativity is impacting productivity 

Business StrategyTop Stories

New research from Slack finds that a focus on performative work, rather than impact, is holding back UK businesses. This leads to them falling behind the likes of Germany, France, India and Singapore when it comes to adopting, and gaining, the efficiency benefits of technological advances in AI and automation.

Based on findings from 2,000 desk workers in the UK, only 21% say their company is using AI tools to improve productivity, compared to 75% in India, 35% in Singapore, 29% in Germany and 23% in France. Meanwhile, 37% of UK workers say their productivity is measured on visibility (i.e. hours spent in the office or online). As a result, almost one-third (30%) of the average day is lost to performative work that doesn’t contribute to company goals, but is simply done to appear productive. 

Thirty-eight percent of UK desk workers state their top barrier to productivity is staying motivated – potentially fuelled by a lack of focus on engaging, high value work. With international comparisons showing the UK employees produce around one-sixth less than the US, France and Germany per hour, the productivity puzzle must be solved.

Automation and AI holds the key to productivity over presenteeism

By using AI and automation, organisations can streamline and accelerate time-consuming and mundane tasks, boosting focus on impactful work:

  • Around half (47%) say that using AI will help them to boost productivity 
  • And by using automation:
    • 59% say they can achieve more with less time and resources
    • 42% say they can focus on things/tasks that have more impact
    • 32% say it improves their work/life balance
    • 25% say it improves their engagement at work 

Despite recognising these benefits, 52% of organisations are less tech savvy when it comes to implementing new tech/AI. A minority (26%) are early adopters, but most need to do more to bring the benefits of streamlined and optimised processes to their workplaces through a central productivity platform. 

Executive-employee disconnect on the value of flexibility 

Many businesses are continuing to navigate approaches to hybrid work – a factor only complicated by other external pressures like rising economic uncertainty. This may be fuelling a focus on performative metrics that aren’t driving real value for workers or businesses.

However, despite the drain of performative work and the potential of AI, executives may be preoccupied with the flexibility question. Their biggest concerns regarding providing flexible hours are a decline in productivity – highlighted by 40% of leaders – followed by co-ordination being more challenging (36%). 

Yet while leaders are concerned about flexibility’s productivity cost, around the same amount of employees (39%) argue they are in fact more productive when able to choose the hours they work.

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