Our annual State of Work Report is a useful way to check up on office culture, attitudes about work, and trends in productivity and job satisfaction. It also inevitably reveals a few odd surprises about work life today.
The most shocking factor by far is how closely our findings align with chart-topping pop songs from the 1980s. No need to dig up your flux capacitor to re-experience these timeless lyrics. Just follow the handy links below as you contemplate five of the weirder insights our report uncovered.
1. You’re Workin’ for a Livin’
Apparently, Huey Lewis knew what he was talking about when he sang these immortal words in 1982.
We asked everyone, “Why do you go to work?” and allowed them to pick up to two responses. We weren’t one bit surprised that the number one answer (by a huge margin) was all about bringing home the bacon. “It pays the bills,” said 76% of respondents. We’re all working primarily to make a living, as Huey’s been saying all along.
We were a little surprised at how little people care about the social aspects of office life. “It’s a place to socialize with people whose company I enjoy,” said almost no one. This answer came in dead last, at just 6%.
2. Hush, Hush, Keep it Down Now, Voices Carry
Now for some insight into exactly why so few of us look forward to socializing with our co-workers.
When we asked what people find the most irritating about working in an office, 3 out of the top 4 answers were about co-workers not being able to keep their mouths shut. They’re either talking too loud, dropping by our desks to chat and overstaying their welcome, or inadvertently broadcasting their personal conversations.
If only we had paid more attention to ‘Til Tuesday, who’s been reminding us that our voices carry since at least 1985.
The other most irritating thing about working in an office? It’s always too hot or too cold, said 31% of respondents (especially during those cruel, cruel summer months).
3. Girls (and Boys) Don’t Wanna Have Lunch
According to Weird Al Yankovic’s popular parody, girls (and boys) did wanna have lunch back in 1985. But not anymore. Now nobody has the time.
More than half (57%) of full-time workers take less than 30 minutes each day to eat lunch, with more than a quarter (28%) speed-eating in 15 minutes or less. Here’s why:
• 49% just prefer to work through lunch
• 38% are too busy
• 7% say lunch isn’t important to them
• 6% blame it on company policy or culture, or a lunch-averse boss
4. Pressure, Pushing Down on Me
David Bowie and Queen circa 1981 were right. “No man ask for” this kind of pressure at work.
Last year, workers spent 46% of their time performing their primary job duties. This year, it dropped to 39%. And our report reveals that the average number of hours workers put in each week is on the rise.
What’s getting in the way? The usual suspects: wasteful meetings, excessive emails, excessive oversight, lack of standard workflow processes. (Bowie and Queen might also add: the terror of knowing what this work is about.)
5. The Future’s So Bright, We Gotta Wear Shades
Yeah, Timbuk 3, things are going all right, and they’re only getting better. Office workers are looking forward to a bright future of working from home, spending less time in meetings, and relying less on email.
In this area at least, the optimism of the ‘80s may be making a bit of a comeback. Yeah, Van Halen, maybe we will go ahead and jump.
About the Author
Heather has enjoyed playing the game of marketing for the past 15 years, at the agency and corporate level, in both B2C and B2B companies. She's run PR campaigns that took her from the MTV Beach House to NASDAQ and many media outlets and content channels in between. She is currently the Corporate Marketing Director at Workfront.Follow on Twitter More Content by Heather Hurst