By Rebecca Bromwich: Mobility Specialist, Telefónica UK
Not long ago The Telegraph published an article entitled ‘British productivity is a national disgrace.’ Personally, I was pretty shocked to discover that Britain is now around a fifth less productive per worker than the G7 average, and a huge 40% behind the US – let’s face it, it’s quite embarrassing.
So what can we do about it? In fairness, businesses are already realising the progress that can be made by using technology to help people to work smarter. To me, smarter working is about greater flexibility for employers and employees, giving everyone the tools they need to work wherever and whenever they choose. This means company information is accessible, but secure, even out of the office. An article from the Economist (subscription needed) proposes that lack of housing and long commuting times may partially explain the UK’s sluggish productivity. This is an area where tech can definitely help as people can be productive while they’re travelling. And it seems to be working. The latest research commissioned by O2 in conjunction with YouGov, ‘Redefining selling, serving and working,’ shows the UK public and private sectors are seeing a 33% jump in productivity thanks to technology, which equates to 9.4 million hours saved each week.
Like many, I lead a busy life. So I’m always trying to claw back a few extra hours in the day whether that’s making the most of my travel time by working on the train or setting up a personal 4G hotspot in a coffee shop between meetings. I don’t adhere to the 9-5 because neither do the companies I work with. By using cloud storage and synching my devices I am able to be more productive on the move and more flexible in responding to the needs of my customers and my colleagues.
When a business decides to embark on the smarter working journey, perhaps the biggest barrier in implementation is the fear of the unknown. If your employees have always had designated desks and fixed line communications, convincing them that hot-desking and smartphones are a better option can be difficult. But, here at O2, we practice what we preach and continually show the benefits of smarter and more flexible working. Ahead of the London Olympics, we implemented an “O2 flexiday” by closing our Slough office so everyone had to work from home. We went in at the deep end but the majority of people who took part found they were just as, or more, productive than when they come into the office. And we continue to prove that this approach works, now made even more effective by the speed and reliability of O2’s 4G network.
The productivity gains are there for the taking. Our research found that more than 70% of senior managers think increasing the use of technology specifically for customer interaction would have a positive effect on their organisation, and 56% of employees agree that the use of business technology has a positive impact on their ability to serve customers. So get in touch if you want to start pushing your organisation, and the UK, back up the productivity league table.
Stay up to date with the latest industry developments: sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox – including our daily news briefing and weekly wrap.