“Rust-out” experienced by 67% of knowledge workers

Team mmhmm

May 8, 2023

This month, mmhmm asked how knowledge workers are feeling about the workplace. We found that “rust-out,” a workplace buzzword that describes feeling underutilized or understimulated in your job, is prevalent—67% of knowledge workers have experienced rust-out all or some of the time in the past year, and 72% of people have left or would leave a job from feeling rust-out. Younger workers (between the ages of 25-35) are particularly sensitive to feeling underutilized or understimulated, and 80% would leave or have left a job over it.

Furthermore, 40% of knowledge workers said they’re at their current job for the paycheck rather than because they find it fulfilling; this lack of enthusiasm can quickly spread within a company.

How can you address rust-out? Reimagine how your teams are communicating to empower people to be more productive.

Autonomy improves productivity

60% of knowledge workers are more productive when their employers give them the autonomy to manage their workloads, and 51% of people said being allowed to work asynchronously or set their own schedule helps them be more productive.

Our survey also revealed productivity can’t simply be correlated to remote or in-office work—43% of people feel most productive working in the office and 42% feel most productive working from home. Instead of imposing a one-size-fits-all solution, the key is providing workers with the autonomy and flexibility to determine what works best for them.

Autonomy often begins with better communication. Reforming how teams communicate is essential to increasing productivity.

Fewer meetings make better meetings

Fewer meetings make better meetings with mmhmm logo

Meetings were always an imperfect way to communicate, and the post-COVID environment has made them even less effective. Too often, meetings get in the way of actual work, and 65% of knowledge workers want fewer meetings because they aren’t productive, a 21% increase from January 2023.

Canceling all meetings is a dramatic attempt to solve this problem, but a more viable approach is to have better meetings and fewer meetings. Yet, only 27% of knowledge workers said their company has reduced the majority of meetings they are scheduling in the past year.

Employees have thoughts on what makes meetings actually worthwhile—60% of knowledge workers said meetings are productive when the majority of people in the meeting actively contribute and 58% said meetings are productive when they’re focused on brainstorming / coming up with new ideas.

Try the new mmhmm

The good news is that teams can reform how they communicate and improve productivity. See how the newly-redesigned mmhmm can help teams communicate clearly and enjoy a workplace with fewer, better meetings.

mmhmm surveyed more than 1,000 knowledge workers in the United States, aged 25+, at companies with 20 or more employees. This survey data was collected in April 2023.

mmhmm purple logo

About mmhmm

mmhmm is a video workplace app for improving communication and making fewer, better meetings. We started mmhmm in 2020 to make our on-screen meetings a little more fun. As a fully distributed, global team ourselves, we’re on a mission to help people who work on video (that is, nearly everyone) create more sustainable and joyful ways to work, teach, and collaborate.

mmhmm is used by employees at Netflix, Nike, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Roche, the BBC, Accenture, and Toyota.

In October 2020, mmhmm raised $31M in an A round, led by Sequoia, and raised $100M in Series B, led by Sequoia and SoftBank Vision Fund, in July 2021. Combined with mmhmm's seed round in June 2020, the company has raised a total of $136.6M.

mmhmm is an All Turtles company. Founded in 2017, All Turtles is a globally distributed product studio that solves meaningful problems.