The productivity challenge is one we are familiar with. However, rather than being a story of doom and gloom, we believe it offers the opportunity for UK businesses to look at the way that they work and make some quick wins to supercharge productivity and drive economic growth.
Vodafone UK and the London School of Economics (LSE) worked together on a project to better understand productivity trends across regions of the UK. The report – The Power of Productivity – revealed that businesses of all sizes could see a productivity boost of as much as 20% by improving management practices, technology and ways of working.
These key themes were useful; but we wanted to find out more – and to look from a different perspective. We conducted a survey which sought to understand productivity through the eyes of employees. The resulting report - Working in the UK - highlighted three steps businesses could consider to encourage efficiency and productivity.
Inspiring management and creating the right culture
The people we work with can inspire and empower us to perform our best and to be as productive as possible. How do we work together in a collaborative and supportive manner? How do we encourage everyone in our team to focus on results and outcomes? When and how do we communicate? What is our culture around meetings?
Our report highlighted that there is plenty of opportunity for businesses to drive progress in this area. More than half of employees surveyed suggested that processes at work impact their productivity; with 47% blaming too many meetings.
It suggests that adopting a customer user experience (UX) approach to our own business processes – for example by mirroring the journey that consumers take when looking at a website and highlighting areas where the journey could be made more efficient - could result in improved work processes. This in turn would enable greater creativity, more effective use of time and ultimately better productivity.
Adopting the right technology
Driving productivity and efficiency can be maximised by ensuring employees are using the most effective technology for their role on a day-to-day basis.
For example, in our work with Fife Council, we provided field-based electricians with rugged mobile devices with fast connectivity, enabling them to upload data and information quickly and effectively whilst on the move.
By analysing incoming data, we demonstrated that employees completed 20% more jobs each day; and were able to spend more time on the high value engineering aspect of their role and less on routine administrative tasks.
Other technologies – such as Unified Communications (products that integrate communications channels, network and systems as well as IT business applications and/or consumer applications and devices) enable employees to communicate and collaborate across multiple devices seamlessly, wherever they are.
This can deliver business benefits including improved customer service and engagement and greater productivity.
Connectivity is key. At Vodafone, we’ve invested £2bn in our network and related services in the last few years. In Ofcom’s recent auction, Vodafone secured the largest slice of 5G spectrum, highlighting our commitment to investing in the UK’s digital future. By being at the forefront of the 5G revolution, we can pave the way for Gigabit UK, and foster the development of new innovations that will change our lives for the better.
We believe that those businesses that put in place digital infrastructure and tools now will be best placed to enjoy the benefits of a more productive workforce; we are committed to helping our customers achieve that goal.
Enabling smart working
Where and how we work is constantly changing, driven by advances in technology. digital communication and collaboration tools are creating new possibilities. Mobility has become an integral part of how we work. Businesses are embracing smarter and more agile ways of working so that teams can connect wherever they are.
It is now possible to create a roaming office or workspaces, accessible from a range of locations. In our research, 43% of UK workers reported that they work from a customer or project site. The ability to connect seamlessly with their own team or base is clearly an advantage.
We think this approach is key in creating businesses that are adaptable and can react quickly to changing market conditions. If your workforce can work anywhere – whilst maintaining productivity - it makes it easier to focus on priorities, such as spending more time with customers.
By Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK
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