The Impatient Nation

The Impatient Nation, Pocket Watch, Time

I can’t be the only person who feels like we’ve become an impatient nation? That the instant gratification monkey is in control more these days? This is something Roy and I, as well as freelancers that I frequently collaborate with, have discussed often. A new study by promotional products retailer 4imprint, reveals the true extent to which Britain has become an impatient nation. When 4imprint asked me for an opinion on the findings of its new report on impatience, I wasn’t necessarily surprised at some of the traits explored but the statistics were an eye-opener. For example:

Did you know that:

  • 84% of UK adults consider themselves to be impatient (Eighty-four?!).
  • 18% stated they are so used to getting things instantly from the internet they often expect it in every aspect of life.
  • 24% will walk out of a shop or restaurant if there aren’t enough staff/ all the staff are busy, or menu hasn’t come quick enough (I can wait for food).

It’s no wonder the art of snail mail letter writing is disappearing fast.

We really have become impatient, haven’t we? There were actually some really interesting statistics about how everyday people increasingly seek out instant gratification. One stat really hit for me though.

  • 34 per cent cross the road before the green man appears.

If you are one of the monsters who are doing this, stop. There is no excuse. Animals!

An Impatient Nation and Business

 Patience is not only a virtue; it is a rarely seen one these days. Personal traits including an inability to wait for things have changed the way that many businesses have had to function. Consumers know what they want and they want it now, or five minutes ago if that’s an option. Understandably the study showed that this necessity to produce instant results has put many British employees under great strain and ironically done very little for their own patience levels. 

This stress is understandable when you consider some of these statistics:

  • 82% of office workers said they are now expected to deliver instant results at work.
  • A fifth say that they have to adapt to new working systems faster than is humanly possible.
  • 16% say that they are expected to learn a new brief in minutes.

Rush jobs and impossible deadlines, seasonal deadlines that are almost impossible to meet and longer hours are just not sustainable long-term. They eat away at the physical and mental health of the workers, the management and everyone involved. So, what is the answer? 

Why Did 4imprint Commission This Study?

Promotional products retailer has a next day express service for people with tight deadlines to meet. They commissioned the independent study following the growth of its 24-hour range. These 1-day dispatch items are for businesses and clients who know what they want and that they want it now. In order to maximise customer satisfaction, appease the instant gratification monkey and yet ensure their workers don’t burn-out, 4imprint wanted as much information as possible. Using the results of the study 4imprint have fine-tuned their working practices, making the 24hr dispatch turnaround achievable as it doesn’t include their full range. A select number of commonly required items that are regularly ordered for fast shipment are easier to manage than a whole business range of items which have the same urgency. This is a very clever way to manage the needs of your consumers while looking after your staff and ensuring need can be met.

In Conclusion

We don’t like to wait. Next day delivery, same day pick up, fast shipping, instant download; all of these are now available and none of them promotes patience. I firmly believe that there is a fine line between progress and negative personality changes. As a freelancer, I am very used to clients changing deadlines and needing work yesterday instead of tomorrow. In my business, I have to manage their need and their expectations against my own work-life balance and the way I like to run my business. All businesses are now having to strike a balance that manages expectation yet delivers. 


Do you run a business? Do you find yourself under increasing pressure to be faster? Do you agree that we have become an impatient nation? I certainly do!

*If baffled by my mentions of the instant gratification monkey, this blog post might interest you!

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