Research: The modern workforce in focus

Boiling the Frog: Revisited.


Over the past few years, the needs of the office workforce have continued to change as technologies and staff behaviour have evolved and the younger generation has entered the workplace – the latter often with very different ideas and expectations about what a good place to work should look like. It’s clear that some end-user needs and priorities have changed while others have intensified.

That’s the broad conclusion of a new research report by OPI and Martin Wilde Associates (MWA) entitled Boiling The Frog: Revisited. Published in January 2019, this 200-page report repeats many of the key questions of the groundbreaking 2012 Boiling The Frog survey, which showed that young office workers can behave very differently from their older colleagues in terms of their usage of office products.

Questions revolved around the type of OP items regularly being used at work; which products are being used more – and less – than in 2012; how important branding and eco-friendly products are; the extent to which documents are still being printed and/or filed and stored; what social networking sites are used in the work environment and many more.

Using a sample of 500 office worker respondents (250 in the US and 250 in the UK), the survey’s results are analysed by country and – within each country – by age, gender and company size, ensuring that the maximum possible value is extracted from the data. Compared to the previous study, some results are the same, some are different and – because new questions have been asked in the 2019 report – some are entirely new.

Survey results

Few comparable results remain entirely unchanged from those recorded in the previous survey. Unsurprisingly, the main reason why respondents have reduced their usage of many key OP items in the last five years remains digitisation/computerisation.

In general, most of the differences to the 2012 report are due to an intensification of previous trends. For example, although there is still a broad range of office products being used regularly (ie every week) by respondents, virtually all of the OP products investigated by this report are now being used significantly less widely. The differences are even greater when respondents work at home, where their behaviour is less likely to be governed by employer requirements.

Another intensification of a previously-identified trend has been the substantial increase in the imposition of printing and document storage controls by employers. The new research also found that end-user observance of such policies has tightened recently – more respondents are claiming 100% observance and fewer are admitting non-compliance.

What’s new?

Given the fast-evolving workplace, Boiling The Frog: Revisited investigates today’s office workers’ needs and behaviour. New questions asked include:

  • To what extent is product colour important?
  • Do workers share a printer and has this affected their usage?
  • Are printer cartridges sourced via MPS?
  • How important is it that an employer offers a variety of employee benefits, such as barista-style coffee, sit-stand workstations, social spaces/breakout areas, natural lighting and the latest technology products?
  • Is Amazon/Amazon Business being used to source OP? If so, for which product categories?
  • How do workers select OP items? Are online product reviews important?