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Latest Ipsos Research Validates the Value of UCaaS and AI for Improving Productivity

Most of us are knowledge workers, and we’re all too familiar with the challenges around being productive, especially in the new world of hybrid work. We’re also quite well-versed in the myriad of communications technologies and offerings from vendors designed to make all of this somehow work. In some regards, hybrid working technologies are working well, but in others, they’re missing the mark. It’s nice to see some solid research that paints a clearer picture of what’s going on.

That’s the focus of a longitudinal study that RingCentral has been running with Ipsos since 2018, and I’ve had early access to the latest findings. This article summarizes some key highlights that might surprise you given how mainstream UCaaS has become. That’s the message in a nutshell, but better to let the numbers do the talking.

The Communications @ Work Index was conducted during July 2023, with a survey of 4,500 full-time workers across the U.S., U.K. and Australia. For this analysis, I’m only reporting on the U.S. response base, and for more color on the broader findings, there’s a new post here running on the RingCentral blog. While the 2023 findings are notable in their own right, comparisons against the 2018 benchmark study are even more telling.

Key Challenges Around Workplace Productivity

In terms of the problem set, there are many issues and challenges that workers are trying to manage, and if anything, the issues are getting more challenging compared 2018. . Table 1 below summarizes the situation.


Table 1 – Key challenges/issues for U.S. respondents



I feel like I’m always at work, even when off the clock


Too many apps make it harder to be productive


Number of business apps used to communicate each week – six or more


Feel the need to respond to notifications within an hour or immediately


Spending one hour or more each day checking notifications


Too many apps stifle my creativity


Regularly check notifications outside of working hours


My focus is impaired, and it’s harder to do “deep work”


Volume of notifications received outside of work has increased in past year


Pressure to respond to these notifications has increased in past year


Number of business apps used – 11 or more



Each and every one of these is a productivity killer, and with such high incidences across the board, there is clearly a disconnect between good technology and high-performing workers. With so many apps being used, and so much time spent handling notifications, workers seem to be spending more time managing their tools than getting actual work done.

Not surprisingly, this leads to stress and anxiety, which only compounds their ability to do “deep work.” Aside from taking a toll on workplace performance, the always-on expectation makes it harder to maintain work/life balance, and there is an ever-expanding body of evidence showing that work-life balance is a high priority for the workforce.

To further illustrate the impact that multiple applications and ceaseless notifications has on worker productivity, RingCentral has extrapolated some data to quantify the impact of time spent managing all these communications applications. They call this the “toggle tax”, where based on the survey responses, 62 working days are spent each year – almost 500 hours – simply going back and forth among these apps, as opposed to doing productive work. This is not good news in absolute terms, and it’s even worse in relative terms: the toggle tax calculation has swelled 93% since 2018, when workers spent “only” 32 days switching between the apps they needed to do their jobs.

Another notable comparison to 2018 is the challenge of managing too many apps. 53 percent of of 2023 survey respondents reported using six or more apps, more than double the 20% of respondents in 2018. Workers have been playing whack-a-mole with different notifications and apps, but the moles are now popping up more quickly and in greater numbers.

Answering the Call with UCaaS and AI

If you think this distraction-heavy, unproductive situation is tailor-made for UCaaS and AI, you’d be right. The data is on your side. Unified communications and AI-assisted workplace tools may not be the only solutions, but they seem poised to go an awful long way toward addressing the key drivers of workplace distraction.

Before continuing, it’s worth noting that technology is not the only guilty party here, as workplace culture and management styles also impact productivity, along with employee engagement, morale, retention, etc.

Likewise, technology isn’t the only antidote to address the challenges listed in Table 1. With a healthy workplace culture, productivity can be great, even when using older technology. The Ipsos study was mainly technology-based, and while it shows support for the need for UCaaS and AI, it is not a comprehensive diagnosis for a happier, more productive workplace. With that said, Tables 2 and 3 below present a strong case for making UCaaS and AI part of the solution.


Table 2 – Key drivers for UCaaS

User preferences for communications platforms

Preference to have a single platform for communications – strongly prefer


Preference to have a single platform for communications – somewhat prefer


Single platforms as productivity enhancers

Impact of a single platform – would somewhat increase my productivity


Impact of a single platform – would greatly increase my productivity


Estimated time savings

Estimated time you could save using a single platform – 1-2 hours a day


Estimated time you could save using a single platform – 2 or more hours a day



All of these drivers play strongly into the UCaaS value proposition, and given the challenges cited earlier, the continued growth of UCaaS adoption should not be surprising. Of course, many businesses have yet to come to UCaaS, and for those still undecided, this research should help validate the need to move forward.


Table 3 – Expectations for AI



Can save time by identifying important information for work- agree


AI-powered personal assistant could reduce daily chaos – strongly/somewhat agree



Table 3 is a short list, and while these attributes are aspirational as opposed to being based on actual experience, they indicate a pretty high level of expectation for AI. Saving time and reducing chaos are major pain points, and if AI can deliver on these, it won’t be hard to justify new use cases.

In terms of current usage, the research indicated that overall, 45% are not using AI. While the findings do not explicitly state that the converse is true - 55% are using AI at present – they do identify several use cases, many of which should have a direct impact on productivity. Table 4 breaks this out, both for leading current usage levels, and expected usage in the coming year.


Table 4 – AI usage, current and next year

AI application


Next Year

Virtual assistant



Task management



Customer service



Knowledge management



Note taking/transcription



Meeting recaps



HR/hiring processes



Lead management




Current adoption levels for these AI applications may be relatively low, but as the “Next Year” column shows, healthy growth is expected for all of the above by respondents, especially for productivity-related applications. Not only does this bode well for supporting hybrid work, but also for broader adoption of AI across the organization. The latter is worth noting, since UCaaS is just one area where enterprises are investing in AI. Three other areas are represented in the table – contact center, HR and sales – and others are sure to emerge as AI becomes more established.


UCaaS and AI alone will not solve all the challenges and issues that have long been undermining productivity. Clearly, however, things aren’t getting better in the workplace, and as the Ipsos research indicates, some things are just getting worse. No enterprise wants to be in this situation, and fine-tuning at the edges won’t be enough to fix productivity and mitigate the toggle tax. With technology changing so quickly, both UCaaS and AI offer immediate relief, as well as future-proof for when new challenges arise.

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This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.