Research recently released by 2e2, the ICT services company, has shown the need for UK businesses to change traditional working practices while at the same time maintaining informal employee interaction. In a survey of nearly 2,000 office workers, 63% said they feel restrained by traditional 9 to 5 working and felt that they would be more productive if there was more flexibility around the hours they worked. Furthermore, 55% admitted to being more productive from working from home as opposed to the office, while 73% said that technology was no longer a barrier to home working.
“Employers often don’t realise the impact of working culture on productivity. Different people have different working patterns and the traditional 9 to 5 way of working doesn’t suit everyone. It’s clear that often employees would be more productive if they had flexible hours or could work from home. However, an organisation’s culture can often mean that this isn’t possible or, if people do work in this way, they are seen as slackers. Bosses need to change this: they need to make it clear that working from home isn’t a perk and that it’s productivity and effectiveness that they care about, not hours behind a desk,” said Mike Hockey, director at 2e2.
However, the research also revealed that nearly one in two workers felt modern working practices, with the increased use of technology and remote working, has led to the loss of valuable human interaction with work colleagues. In fact, when asked about the best forum for discussing business ideas and collaborating with colleagues, over three-quarters felt this was best done away from the boardroom. Indeed, 47% stated that the best ideas come when in a pub or restaurant.
“Over the last 15 years working practices have radically changed and people are more likely to hide behind their laptop or mobile screens than interact face to face. Technologies like instant messaging, SMS, web-based meetings and video conferencing have revolutionised workforce interaction and productivity. However, it is vital that organisations educate users on how and when to best use these technologies. They can be great for completing a well defined task, but aren’t necessarily appropriate if you’re looking for insight and creativity. This research shows that if you want creativity and ideas from your workforce, then a drink and a chat in the pub might yield the best results!” continued Mike Hockey.
The study went on to look at the impact of commuting on productivity. It was shown that transport problems or delays are causing UK workers to lose on average 1.5 working days each year, costing UK businesses £1.21 billion in lost productivity. Worse still these bad journeys were causing workers to be more tired and stressed, resulting in further productivity losses to the tune of £1.03 billion a year. This means that the total transport-related productivity losses for UK plc are in excess of £2.24 billion.
“The negative impact the daily commute can have on productivity shouldn’t be underestimated. If UK businesses can offer employees more flexible ways of working then those businesses stand to benefit massively. You only have to take next year’s 2012 London Olympics as an example: people are already being asked to work from home or alter their working routine as a consequence of the expected transport disruption. Certainly with today’s increased connectivity and the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops there are far fewer barriers to working flexibly than ever before. This means people can work more effectively at home, in the office or a combination of both,” added Mike Hockey.
The survey of 1,948 office workers was commissioned by 2e2 and conducted by independent research company TNS Omnibus.