Adrienne Gormley, Global VP CX & Head of EMEA, Dropbox

In just the last few months, we’ve had the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggesting it would need to significantly lower its estimate for the productivity of UK workers. We’ve been told we have the lowest productivity among G7 nations, and most recently data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests we have shifted to less productive work.

Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are more positive, but there is still a way to go, and it’s abundantly clear there is mountain to climb to address the productivity challenge in front of us.

Productivity is often thought of as a politician’s challenge at a national level. Yet the day-to-day reality falls at the feet of each and every worker; how productive an individual can be.

For workers themselves, this can be a daunting prospect. The assumption for many is often that being more productive simply means working more. But people already work hard and long hours.

We can’t simply squeeze more out of a time-pressed and stressed workforce, but a more enlightened way of working can help people accomplish more with the time they have.

People are struggling

Seeking to better understand how people work together and what impact that has on businesses, we conducted a study with the School of Life  and separately surveyed 2,000 UK workers. The result was the ebook, The Vices and Virtues of Collaboration, as well as an independent piece of research. Together, these revealed an eye-opening picture of our way of work. 

Remarkably, 64 percent of workers will head to work each day feeling ‘out of our depth’.

And it doesn’t get any better as people climb the career ladder. In fact, it actually gets harder the more prestigious an organisation is and the more senior an individual is, with these factors contributing to a higher likelihood of workers feeling they are ‘struggling’.

These feelings give way to something known as ‘imposter syndrome’, which encapsulates the sense of people faking it at work and believing colleagues are more competent than them.

Given these findings and negative feelings, it should come as no surprise that just a fifth of UK employees never do their best work, and nearly three quarters said that they don't work to the best of their abilities even once a week.

This may paint a rather gloomy picture of working life, but it also raises important questions around productivity that are not always addressed.

Are we thinking about what makes people productive in the right way? How can we expect people to do more when they feel out of their depth? What can we do to change this?

It starts with clarity. At a high level, this means an organisation having a very clear purpose and being to communicate to workers. And for the individual, it means understanding their role and responsibilities within this vision, to give them direction and focus on the job at hand.

Working wellbeing

We understand more about the human mind now than ever before – how it works, what motivates us, what make us happy, and what inspires us.

And yet, how much change have we seen in the workplace as a result of this valuable knowledge?

We must acknowledge that individual productivity ultimately comes from being happy, motivated, and focused in our roles. Yet, as our research shows, clearly we do not feel this way.

This has to change, and not just from a productivity standpoint.

Given the amount of time that goes into most people’s work, it could be argued that if you’re not spending your working life well, you’re not spending your life well.

According to a report by McKinsey & Company, knowledge workers spend approximately 60% of their time at work on tedious tasks such as searching for content, reviewing email, and re-sharing context to keep team members in the loop—what we call “work about work.” This means they spend just 40% of their time doing the jobs they were hired to do.

It’s time for businesses to take the blindfold off and to realise a more enlightened way of working. 

Finding our flow

So what does an enlightened way of working really look like?

Put simply, we want to have more time when people are in a state of flow – when they are focused, working optimally, and producing their best work.

This might be different for each individual, but we have all had the feeling of being ‘in the zone’. Why shouldn’t we be in the zone more often or even almost all the time?

In order to achieve this, a cultural shift must be made.

We must drag ourselves out of the rut of doing work about work. We must forge new ways of working together.

What does this mean practically?

Embracing contention is one key principle. Too often, collaboration is thought of as a group of people all smiling and agreeing on decisions, happily pulling in the same direction.

But the power of a group really comes from people communicating different opinions and working towards the best solution through diverse thinking. It’s vital that a culture is fostered where contention is not feared or shied away from, but seen as a constructive force.

Another area is being more comfortable with ambivalence. People regularly find themselves in meetings, for example, feeling like they must take a side or have a strong opinion. Which approach is better, A or B?

The truth is that it’s OK to hold opposing thoughts in one’s mind, and to take the time to consider the value of each, before deciding which, if either, is preferred. 

Optimism for the future

The challenges that lay before us are considerable.

We have workers arguably wasting 60 percent of their time each day, poor productivity nationwide, and a negative feeling about work across the board.

And yet, there is cause for optimism.

If we can take a fresh approach to work, to recognise the need for people to have focus as well as motivation and happiness in their working lives, we can start to make meaningful change.

Knowing where to start isn’t easy, of course. A good place to start is with a practice space.

If you can develop the time and space that free you up to make mistakes and take chances, with no additional performance pressure, you will push beyond your normal boundaries. 

This will unleash your creativity and see your ideas become even more refined.

It’s time to close the book on years of built up process and stagnation, and to unleash the potential of workers across the country.

Adrienne Gormley, Global VP CX & Head of EMEA, Dropbox

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Abertay has published a new article: How do I qualify as a First Aid Trainer? 16 minutes ago
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 21 minutes ago

The latest podcasts from FE News for 10/16/2021 -
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page