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What makes some industries more productive during remote work?

In recent months we reported that employees have been more productive than expected while working remotely, which was revealed in findings from the recent Nintex Workplace 2021 Study*.

We were also fascinated to learn and share how different generations experienced working from home, and interested to see how remote worker productivity is impacted by where you live in the U.S.

But the intrigue doesn’t end there! It turns out that not all industries have enjoyed the same level of remote worker productivity so we dug a little deeper, curious to know what puts one industry ahead of another in the race to achieve business success.

According to findings in the Nintex Workplace 2021 Study—which surveyed 1,000 American workers about their sentiment towards their jobs and the future of work—construction, technology, financial services, education, government, and healthcare industry workers reported varying productivity levels while working remotely.

But why is that?

As an increasingly digital economy raises its voice and demands to be heard, few organizations—and industries—can deny that there is a persistent push to digitize operations, customer interactions, service delivery, and even the experience of workers, many who have been contributing to their workplace remotely.

It should come as no surprise, then, that those industries with more automation in place before the pandemic reported having a better remote work experience.

In fact, the industry you work in and its investment in technology have a significant impact on how prepared you are for a remote work environment, which ultimately impacts productivity.

What do the numbers say?

Although 70 percent of employees surveyed in the recent Nintex Workplace 2021 Study reported being “more productive than expected” while working remotely over the last year, some industries have fared better than others.

Employees in the construction industry report the highest levels of productivity at 87 percent, technology workers followed with productivity levels of 76 percent, financial services industry workers found remote work largely productive with 70 percent reporting greater productivity levels, education industry workers reported higher than anticipated productivity levels with 61 percent of workers finding remote work more productive than anticipated, and government (56 percent) and healthcare (54 percent) industry workers reported the lowest productivity levels.

Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Construction – Fifty-six percent of construction industry workers reported having extremely modern and very efficient workplace tools in place before the pandemic which may have contributed to the smooth transition. Construction industry workers reported 90 percent of organizations use automation/AI-driven tools across business processes and workflows to a significant or moderate extent contributing to overall productivity in the pandemic.
  2. Technology – Employees identifying in the technology industry reported high productivity levels in large part due to 98 percent of employees that categorize their companies’ tech tools as either extremely or mostly modern and efficient. Additionally, 69 percent of respondents noted their businesses use automation and AI-driven tools to a significant or moderate extent.
  3. Financial Services – Financial services workers also noted that 50 percent of businesses had extremely or mostly modern and very efficient tools in place before the pandemic started. Financial services workers also reported 85 percent of organizations use automation and AI-driven tools to a significant or moderate extent, enabling a smoother than expected transition to remote work.
  4. Education – Respondents identifying in the education industry recorded that 36 percent of their organizations’ technology was extremely modern and very efficient before the pandemic. Additionally, 35 percent of educators also noted businesses leverage automation and AI-driven tools to a significant and moderate extent contributing to higher productivity levels despite being one of the most impacted industries by the remote work transition.
  5. Government – Government workers struggled more than most industries when working from home. Just 32 percent of government respondents found their companies’ technology tools as extremely modern and efficient before the pandemic. Government industry workers also reported 56 percent of organizations leverage automation and AI-driven tools to a significant or moderate extent making the transition more difficult than other industries.
  6. Healthcare – Remote healthcare workers had the most difficult transition. Healthcare workers were the least confident in their tech tools before the pandemic set in with just 30 percent of workers noting their technology tools as extremely modern and efficient. Healthcare workers did note that 72 percent of organizations were using automation and AI-driven tools across business processes and workflows to a significant or moderate extent before the pandemic.

Be prepared to embrace change

Insights like these are particularly useful as they provide businesses with valuable information into what has made remote work successful for their peers and competitors.

It is clear that those businesses that invested in productivity technology and automation early were better suited to make a productive transition to remote work. As the business landscape continues to evolve in ways that aren’t always predictable, those organizations that are supported with technology to help them pivot and adapt are most likely to reinvent themselves and reap the rewards.

*The Nintex Workplace 2021 Study surveyed* 1,000 U.S.-based full-time workers at companies with 501-50,000 employees. The report also breaks down findings by demographic, living situation, those with/without dependents, and generation.


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Laetitia Smith

Laetitia Smith is a senior manager on Nintex’s corporate marketing team and is based in Auckland, New Zealand. In her global role, she leads and executes PR/AR initiatives and the company’s social media program. She loves collaborating with customers to share their success stories as they manage, automate, and optimize their business with their technology.

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