Hungary’s Intellectual Workforce not Getting Most From ICT Support

Analysis

From left, Tibor Hegyi and Attila Gáspár, co-CEOs of Meta-INF.

Photo by Gergely Herpai.

Hungary’s “intellectual workforce” increasingly works on a hybrid model, and while information and communications technology can give them the tools to do so, they are not always deployed effectively, despite the benefits offered for team management and bonding. IT help desk staff can speak a different language to everyone else, and Excel is used to cover a multitude of tasks, new research suggests.

In a significant shift towards flexible work arrangements, Hungary’s first national representative productivity survey reveals extensive insights into the adaptation to hybrid working models by the “intellectual workforce,” alongside the prevalent use of conventional tools and communication barriers within corporate settings.

The work landscape is evolving rapidly across Hungary as more than a third of the country’s intellectual workers now operate from home for at least one or two days each week, according to the latest productivity survey. This shift towards hybrid working models is expected to continue long term.

Despite this progression, challenges remain, particularly in communication: a quarter of those surveyed report potential misunderstandings at corporate IT helpdesks due to a lack of a common language, even when sharing a mother tongue. Furthermore, a significant majority have not adopted a shared knowledge repository or collaboration tool, relying instead on traditional methods like Excel for task management.

The survey also introduces a Productivity Index, providing a quantitative measure of the efficiency of Hungarian white-collar workers.

Meta-INF, a leading provider of productivity apps, and implementation, consulting, training, and support services, and market research specialists NRC conducted the nationwide online survey to assess the effectiveness of Hungarian intellectual workers and the tools provided by their companies to address the challenges of teleworking, knowledge sharing, and customer service work.

The findings highlight what the firms say is a critical gap in collaboration. Despite the complex nature of business processes and projects that require teamwork across various divisions, many companies are falling short in effective collaboration, placing them at a competitive disadvantage and leading to unnecessary costs. It is observed that larger companies tend to use collaboration platforms more frequently.

Variable Uptake

These tools, essential for allowing team members to work together and share information, are used by 40% of respondents. However, usage rates differ among business types, being higher among sole proprietors (33%) than small businesses with between 2 and 50 employees (26%). Adoption is lower in sectors such as health, education, public administration, legal professions, and food, while it is more common in science, technology, culture, infrastructure, and energy sectors.

The tools are primarily used for sharing work-related content and documents (74%) and for general internal communication (67%). They are less frequently used for modeling and automating company processes (39%).

“Collaboration tools are particularly important in the world of hybrid working. They are essential not only for managing the team but also for giving colleagues working from home the positive feedback that motivates them,” said Tibor Hegyi, co-CEO of Meta-INF.

Despite the availability of technological solutions, only 34% of respondents utilize an online knowledge repository at work to manage and edit information within the organization, and 15% could not even answer whether such a repository exists.

“This result surprised us, too. But the knowledge of a ‘lone genius’ is no longer enough for a company to excel. The key to success is teamwork, a diversity of skills working together. Knowledge-sharing tools play an important role in unleashing the collective knowledge of an organization,” Hegyi added.

About half of the respondents (49%) who do not use a knowledge-sharing system believe they can perform their jobs without it, while a third think they could do so more effectively if they had one. Using task management systems to delegate and track tasks helps avoid duplication and replaces time-consuming administration with automation. Approximately half of the respondents (48%) work in environments that utilize some form of software, system, or platform for this purpose.

The sectors most behind in adopting these systems are education (23%), healthcare, and public administration, despite a significant majority (83%) believing these systems enhance work efficiency. Where such tools are not used, 73% resort to handing over tasks via email.

Hungarian Creativity

“For me, the fact that we solve everything we can with a spreadsheet is a manifestation of the inexhaustible creativity of the Hungarian soul. Today, however, we no longer need to resort to kitchen tinkering if we want to follow the progress of a task or project transparently. That’s what online task management systems were invented for,” Hegyi noted.

Communication issues extend beyond internal workflows to interactions between IT helpdesks and other departments, where more than a quarter of those surveyed anticipate problems that are not resolved due to language barriers (26-29%).

Additionally, a similar proportion (24%) often feels they cannot understand their help desk colleagues, as if they speak a “different language.” This issue is reciprocated, with helpdesk staff frequently finding that they do not speak the same technical language (even if they share a mother tongue) as other staff, at 15%, or their clients (17%).

“Customer support, whether for internal or external customers, is not an unnecessary cost, but a strategic area of importance for companies striving for long-term business success,” said Attila Gáspár, co-CEO of Meta-INF.

“The satisfaction of internal customers (i.e., colleagues) is crucial in boosting employee motivation and thus increasing company productivity. And external customer satisfaction contributes to successful operations and long-term growth by spreading a good reputation, in addition to strengthening engagement.”

The survey culminated in creating a productivity index for intellectual workers, showing that only 21% of the workforce uses at least three of the four essential productivity tools: collaboration platforms, knowledge-sharing systems, task management systems, and IT software supporting the helpdesk function. In light of these findings, Meta-INF has announced plans to compile and regularly publish this productivity index to monitor changes and encourage the adoption of productivity tools across various sectors.

This comprehensive survey highlights a significant shift towards hybrid working environments among Hungary’s intellectual workforce. As companies continue to navigate these changes, the increased adoption of advanced productivity tools will be crucial in overcoming the challenges of teleworking and ensuring efficient collaboration and communication across all levels of an organization.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 6, 2024.

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