Aussie positivity towards tech for work halved in year two of the pandemic

Andrew Groth, Executive Vice President Region Head, ANZ at Infosys

New research from Infosys, a global player in next-generation digital services and consulting, has found that two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services. When asked what they’d like to see the back of respondents stated they were tired of “Zoom video calls” and “being contactable 24/7”.

In turn appetite for virtual collaboration tools and video conferencing has dropped, despite the use of technology to enable remote and flexible working being the popular application of digital services. A year prior, in November 2020 Infosys’ CX to HX report revealed that tech was bringing Australians more joy, flexibility, and empowerment than ever before.

What has changed since?

This time around respondents spoke of “a love-hate relationship” with using tech for work, reflecting in part on the ease of it, but also referring to it as “exhausting” and “depressing”.

This follows reports of employee tracking software having become the ‘new normal’, while Google data suggests our virtual working lives are here to stay with foot traffic into offices yet to return to pre-pandemic levels as of April 2022.

Andrew Groth, Executive Vice President Region Head, Australia & New Zealand commented; “As employers continue to evolve and advocate for digital tools, they need to keep in mind the mental strain people are experiencing with uncapped screen time. Digital Fatigue means less clarity and creativity, resulting in a reduced capability to innovate and explore new ideas.”

Interestingly the study also revealed New Zealanders experienced a smaller drop in positive sentiment – from 57% in ’20 to 41% in ’21 – suggesting that Australia being home to Melbourne, the world’s most locked down city, may have greatly impacted local sentiment.

Matt Kain, WONGDOODY President APAC said; “fatigue isn’t universal, that will challenge businesses designing with employee welfare in mind, underscoring need for personalisation”.

From good to best – what’s next for digital services?

Respondents were twice as likely to feel neutral about using tech for leisure this time around, but anecdotal responses suggested it’s easier to strike a balance between our virtual and physical lives outside of work. There’s plenty of positives too with the elderly and immunocompromised having described their online lives as a “life-line” and “empowering”.

In terms of what people want more of, ease of use increased its lead as the most vital factor for Aussies, with 80% of respondents calling this out as the leading driver of brand loyalty.

Andrew Groth said; “Consumers are calling for digital experiences that are easy so getting those basics right then going beyond that to create the kind of entertaining, empowering and helpful experiences people want is where a valuable point of difference exists.”

“The metaverse concept represents a nascent potential for brands to connect in new ways and transform the digital era. What we’re seeing is the rise of a parallel online reality, where people can work, shop, and connect digitally – with good design making it feel more human.”

How did digital services rate?

In terms of the digital services recognised as most improved over the past year, respondents rated banking and retail most highly, followed closely by groceries. These services were also recognised as the most accessible for people with a disability, which is important to note given respondents called specifically for more inclusive design that’s tested by the end user.

One respondent asked that businesses “hire disabled people to test and give feedback because if you don’t have the disability, you can’t give accurate feedback like we can.”

“I have noticed tech becoming easier to use due to the increasing amount of people of all ages and technical skills using websites,” another observed that accessibility benefits all users.

“Two years into the pandemic it’s clear our relationship with tech is beginning to strain. What’s promising is that respondents still see the joy in technology, with its ability to connect coming through strongly. It’s this human aspect of technology that will become increasingly desirable and set businesses apart – but only if they make it accessible by design,” said Matt Kain.