UK Economy Being Hit As Businesses Suffer “Connectivity Deficit”

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Survey believes UK businesses could be losing up to around £30bn growth due to lack of flexible working

The UK economy could be missing out on as much as £30 billion of growth as businesses fail to adapt to changing work habits –with growing inefficiency and a lack of productivity largely to blame, according to a new study.

Research carried by O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) believes the country is falling behind due to what it calls a “connectivity deficit” in the public sector and big businesses.

Compared to five years ago, the report found that the average output per hour worked was nearly five percent lower. However, if companies were prepare to properly invest in making their workers more connected at home and on the move, more than two million hours would be made more productive each year, the report, entitled Smarter Working Britain, stated.

working mother baby tech laptop home working © c12 ShutterstockCrucial period

The study surveyed 1,000 middle-managers from businesses employing over 250 workers across both the private and public sectors, and found that despite many businesses promoting the benefits of connected technology and BYOD schemes.

But 80 percent admitted that staff still don’t have full access to key business systems (such as apps and instant messaging tools) which would allow them to work effectively away from the office.

“We’re entering a crucial period when it comes to growth,” said Ben Dowd, business director at O2. “There’s lots of talk about the agile tech start-up, but we need to create the same level of dynamism in our large organisations if we’re to reach our full potential and compete on a global stage. The staggering cost of long-term inefficiencies in larger British businesses laid bare in our report is a wake-up call for employers.

“Even small improvements will help businesses grow and in turn provide more jobs and increased wages, as well as improve the lives for their hard-working employees.”

The first challenge to overcome, however, still appears to be a personal one. Many bosses still appear to display a risk averse nature when it comes to implementing this technology in the workplace, with the study finding one in four respondents commenting that issues around trust, responsibility and readiness for change were their main barriers to adoption.

“ICT technologies such as smartphones, mobile apps and cloud computing are starting to drive business productivity and restore the competitiveness of UK workers,” said Graham Brough, the chief executive of Cebr. “We expect to see the economic benefits from better connectivity increase as these technologies penetrate all aspects of the work environment whether this be working from home, whilst travelling or from remote locations.”

The study is the latest move by O2 as it attempts to tackle inefficiency, as it successfully trialled a flexible working initiative before the London Olympics. The company estimated that one day’s worth of 2,5000 of its employees working away from the office reduced its CO2 equivalent emissions by 12.2 tonnes and saved its employees around 2,000 hours of commuting time.

The reduction in emissions were equivalent to driving 42,000 miles in a medium-sized diesel car, while 2,000 hours of commuting time were saved, cutting emissions that would have been created from travelling in on trains, buses and cars.

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