RingCentral, a provider of AI-driven global enterprise cloud communications, has unveiled the Communications @ Work Index. This report highlights the detrimental effects of current workplace communication and collaboration habits on the productivity of UK workers.

The findings reveal:

  • A significant increase in the use of communication apps, with 52% of employees using six or more apps weekly, up from 20% before the pandemic.
  • Over 22% of workers spend more than two hours daily on notifications, which translates to up to 63 days or 500 work hours annually, navigating through various apps.
  • Notifications at work are considered by 52% of employees as one of the primary disruptors to their workflow, impacting their concentration and their capacity for deep work. Furthermore, 50% believe it hampers their creativity.
  • A majority, 53%, believe that AI can assist in time-saving by pinpointing pertinent information across work-related communication apps.


“Communications Chaos” Gripping UK Businesses

With the demands of the modern workplace, employees are now expected to utilise and manage an increasing number of applications and communication volumes. The report indicates a notable rise in app usage. Interestingly, as age increases, the number of apps used tends to decrease; 65% of those aged 55-65 use five or fewer apps weekly.

This influx in app usage means that 45% of employees now dedicate over an hour daily to check alerts, and 22% spend over two hours. This amounts to a staggering 500 work hours or 63 working days annually spent just switching between apps.

Younger workers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, feel an intense pressure to respond promptly to these notifications. This urgency is not as pronounced among older workers, with only one in 10 of those aged 55-65 feeling the need for an immediate response.


Impact on Productivity

The surge in workplace applications and their associated notifications, combined with the compulsion to respond swiftly, is evidently taking a toll on productivity. The study shows:

  • 57% of employees assert that the overabundance of apps impedes their productivity.
  • 52% feel their work focus diminishes, making it challenging to engage in deep work.
  • 33% cite constant notifications as the primary disruptor to their work routine.
  • 50% feel that the excess of apps restricts their creativity, while 45% say they often lose track of tasks and are more inclined to make errors. This is a stark increase from pre-pandemic data from RingCentral which highlighted that only 31% would lose their train of thought.


The Promise of AI: From Turmoil to Tranquillity

The study suggests a silver lining: AI might be the antidote to the prevailing communications chaos. Currently, 39% of workers utilise AI in their daily tasks, and a significant 53% agree that AI could play a pivotal role in sifting through crucial information from various work communication tools. Additionally, many see the potential of AI-powered personal assistants in mitigating the daily turmoil.

Steve Rafferty, VP International at RingCentral, opined on the findings: “In this era of hybrid work, communication tools aim to simplify workflows. Yet, the sheer number of available apps leads to a communication overload, resulting in a drop in productivity. This is particularly concerning when businesses and economies require efficient workforces. Our study underscores that the challenge of communications overload needs urgent attention. The data sheds light on workers’ perspectives on how AI might be the key to enhancing productivity, ensuring a better employee experience and satisfaction.”