Knowledge Workers Burned Out from Juggling Multiple Apps

The overwhelming majority of knowledge workers want their work lives to be simpler - starting with fewer workplace apps.

New survey data from project management software provider Wrike shows that more than three-quarters of knowledge workers are overwhelmed by the volume of apps they’re using and yearning for a “single source of truth” at work.

The vast array of software applications used by the average employee contributes to what Wrike calls the “Dark Matter” of work, the day-to-day tasks and processes that managers and supervisors often have little visibility over.

The proliferation of applications – known as  SaaS (Software as a Service) sprawl – leads to app fatigue, and in turn, creates the demand for centralized digital locations for planning, tracking and collaborating.

Employees Want A Single Source of Truth at Work

Wrike’s 2023 Efficiency Report sought responses 1005 business leaders and 2,002 knowledge workers across the UK and US, with a focus on individuals working in companies with more than 250 employees.

Out of those surveyed, 58% said they want to use fewer software apps to do their job, while 76% of workers report that a “single source of truth” would help reduce work-related stress.

51% said they’d feel happier if this single source of truth was leveraged in their workplace, while 52% said they’d feel more productive.

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What’s more, the vast majority believe it would have a positive effect on cross-team collaboration (80%), and help achieve results (81%).

The lack of a single source of truth is also affecting visibility over work. According to Wrike’s data, workers believe the person in charge of their team only has visibility over 55% of the work that they do, leaving 45% unaccounted for.

Business leaders are under any false impressions about how much they’re privy too, either – they report, on average, that they only have visibility over 58% of the work that their team does.

Do We Use Too Much Software?

Business leaders said that, on average, their teams are using five to six (5.36) fewer applications than they were in 2022. This has, according to the business leaders involved in Wrike’s report, led to an 11% improvement in operational efficiency.

However, employees report that, on average, they’ve only been able to cut three to four (3.78) applications out of their working day over the past 12 months. This is probably due to the fact that “app integrations have not increased significantly” between 2022 and 2023, the report notes.

But precisely how many applications are being used by businesses?

Although recent data from large-scale studies on this topic is sparse, a 2021 report that analyzed data on 30,000 applications used by 91 companies found that “most departments use between 40-60 applications”.

Are Work OS Programs the Future?

The proliferation of software applications in workplaces is referred to as SaaS sprawl – in other words, a messy combination of unapproved and often poorly integrated applications, all fulfilling singular, one-dimensional functions.

“Knowledge workers are overwhelmed with the number of apps and communication tools they use at work in addition to increased workloads,” Wrike concludes in its report. “They are crying out for clear, streamlined, and consolidated processes.”

App fatigue is real and can have real downsides for businesses, along with increased stress for employees.

For instance, if employees feel like they’re already using an endless list of SaaS applications, then they might be reticent to consider a new one, even if there’s strong evidence that it will positively improve processes or generate ROI.

This is where project management apps like Wrike, as well as other productivity and work management platforms like, come into play. They’re specifically designed to function as all-in-one solutions, which is why so many companies are turning to them to simplify their day-to-day work processes.

Increasingly, these applications have begun to market themselves as “Work OS” programs – a relatively new concept, building on the popularity of productivity platforms. In the same way as your computer only needs one operating system, you only need one Work OS – and it might be the key to relieving work-related stress.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and covering a wide range of topics.
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