The 2021
State of Work

The pandemic changed work, cultural and personal norms in the UK

Taking the pulse of the UK workforce just weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and again eight months later, revealed how drastically the pandemic changed digital work. Attitudes about work changed. Expectations mounted. Millennials and Gen Xers experienced the disruption differently. And the relationship workers have with technology emerged as the top opportunity to empower a new breed of digital worker.
Our methodology

Report data comes from two studies conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK):

  • First study surveyed 1,000 UK workers from 13th Feb - 6th Mar 2020.
  • Second study surveyed 1,000 UK workers from 29th Nov - 3rd Dec 2020.
  • All respondents were from companies with 500+ employees, worked on a computer, and collaborated with others.

The 2021 State of Work Report uncovers the study’s most compelling findings about today’s surprisingly engaged and resilient digital workers, from the new challenges they’re up against to the ways they’re thriving against all odds.

Good enough is
no longer enough.

49 %

Nearly half of UK workers are likely to leave a job if they are frustrated by work technology (Up from 33% prior to the pandemic).

+16

On the other hand, the latest tech is attracting top talent. Digital workers are increasingly applying for jobs because they heard a company uses great technology. This rose 16% compared with pre-pandemic data.

Digital workers know how technology should work, and they know that it’s critical to their ability to be successful. When their employers provide them with subpar tools, it’s more than an inconvenience. It demonstrates that the company isn’t very concerned with either the quality of work or the people doing the work.
Elizabeth Volini
Executive Director, ePMO Lead, PPM Platform Owner

A rapid digital evolution.

+12

UK workers rely on technology to do their job 12% more than they did pre-pandemic. That’s a rise of more than double the US growth rate.

56 %

UK workers state technology is vital for teamwork and fostering collaboration in their job (a huge 24% rise since before the pandemic).

We were already ramping up our use of digital collaboration tools. When the pandemic hit, we had no option but to accelerate those efforts, and that’s been a gift. Today, we can take the creative process that happens by being together and building on each other’s ideas in person, and make it possible virtually. Our creativity isn’t limited because we don’t sit next to each other.
Robyn Tombacher
Global Head of Workforce Management

Digital workers are even more engaged.

75 %

UK workers feel that their daily work ‘very much’ impacts their company (up 16% since February 2020).

81 %

More than four in five workers feel ‘very invested’ in their current role. (That’s an increase of 27% since before the pandemic).

Despite a global pandemic, our very human need to find meaning in our work is revealed in this data.
Alex Shootman
VP and GM

Barriers still need to
be overcome.

62 %

UK workers feel underappreciated (up 4%), like their work doesn’t matter (52%, up 4%), and that they don’t have good communication with colleagues or managers (43%, up 4%).

+12

Gen Xers recorded a 12-point jump when asked if doing their best work is more important than pay (vs. Millennials’ 1-point increase).

While crises of the past may have created a ‘buyer’s market’ where employers could set the terms, the pandemic is requiring leaders to address both the technology needs and the life-situation barriers that are impacting individual and team flourishing, across the generational spectrum.
Laura Butler
SVP, People & Culture

Why the State of Work matters—takeaways for leaders.

COVID-19 changed digital work—a seismic shift that’s backed by data. The frequent 14-16 point changes in attitude of UK workers revealed in the report are rare and remarkable in trends research. But what does this mean for companies and leaders responsible for supporting their digital workforces through uncertainty?

From treating technology as a critical workforce issue to personalising the employee experience on par with your customers’, the results of this research are intended to help leaders understand and cultivate resilience in their digital workforces—to attract and retain talent, to stay competitive, and to be on the forefront of reshaping the future of digital work.

For digital workers, technology is an integral part of engagement. Leaders who understand this are leveraging work technologies to mitigate the mundane and burdensome, and enable everything from flexibility and creativity to mental and personal wellbeing. Deployed thoughtfully—even in the most challenging times—technology can support employees in doing the best work of their lives.
Paul Tasker
VP, Marketing Operations

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