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NewYork, 16.01.2019

Knowledge workers see voice-activated technology as most likely to ease their frustrations

GfK shares fresh data on workers’ challenges; trust may pose a barrier

While smartphones, tablets, and other digital technologies have made workers’ lives easier, a new GfK study shows that the effects have been decidedly mixed. Employees report facing a variety of tech-related obstacles at work -- but also hold out hope that some devices and services will ease their pain.

The research was conducted in November and December 2018 among 2,375 knowledge workers – broadly defined as employees who use a non-shared PC every day for work.

GfK’s research shows that three job-related challenges create the most frustration for these employees:

  • managing passwords (cited by 60% of respondents as either a major or minor frustration)
  • organizing a total life schedule of personal and work commitments (59%)
  • sifting through and prioritizing emails on a daily basis (53%)

Among the 14 challenges covered in the research, four were cited as major or minor frustrations by at least 50% of knowledge workers, while the other 10 were mentioned by 44% or more. Three of the top six challenges are related to keeping up with emails, messages, and other work communications.

GfK also asked knowledge workers which of six emerging technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) – might be most helpful in taking on everyday work problems. Roughly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said that using voice input for computers and smartphones was interesting or very interesting.

Coming in a close second (61%) among the solutions was a smartphone with a flexible screen that can be folded or expanded, followed by two different ways of using AI to analyze different aspects of work and make recommendations (55% for each).

The AI-based options, however, may be hampered by concerns about the safety and security of data and personal information. GfK – using its own syndicated assets Consumer Life and AutoMobility, in addition to other sources – generally has found elevated concern about data privacy among consumers. 

The new GfK study also found that

  • knowledge workers in mid-size companies (100 to 999 employees) are more likely to report a wider range of challenges than those in smaller (1 to 99) or larger (1,000+) firms
  • parents with children under 18 in the home feel the various work frustrations more acutely – and are more open to tech-oriented solutions, compared to those without kids
  • Baby Boomers say they are less likely than their younger coworkers to feel many of these challenges – a fact attributable in part to the fact that they are also less likely to be digitally connected


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