A study based on interviews with 1,000 middle managers in private and public sector organisations of more than 250 people, found 80% admitted they had not offered sufficient technologies to enable employees to work away from the office.
The report published by O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) evaluated the savings organisations could make by using connectivity tools.
Among a raft of findings, it suggested businesses could save the economy around £4.1 billion a year in lost time if employees worked from home, and £1.9 billion through remote working.
It found workers could use technology better to complete tasks remotely rather than having to return to the office, for example through apps. It estimated this could save £5.9 billion a year.
It also suggested better connectivity during external meetings could save each worker up to 54 hours a year in wasted follow-up activities.
The report also revealed 25% of employers admitted they were deterred from using new technologies because of issues around trust, responsibility and readiness for change.
Embrace new technologies
O2 Business director Ben Dowd said employers needed to embrace new technologies in 2014 – a year when the UK economy is expected to grow.
“We’re entering a crucial period when it comes to growth,” he said. “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.
“Every employer should try to understand their own connectivity deficit. 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.”
Workforce management company Kronos director Neil Pickering backed Dowd’s call, and added that employers needed to also improve communication with staff.
“While the research highlights the role technology can play in tackling the problem by improving connectivity between employees, it’s important to remember it also has a role to play in improving communication between managers and employees,” he said.
“For example, for organisations including retail, contract services and manufacturing, the misalignment of staffing to business demand can have a huge impact on performance, productivity and profits.
“Not only this, issues such as repetitive manual tasks, inadequate tracking of time and attendance, and unnecessary overtime all impair worker productivity. So, managers need to ensure they have real-time insight into any problems that may impact productivity levels.
“If organisations take full advantage of this omnipresence of connectivity they will be able to communicate more effectively to their employees, as well as more flexibility being available to both employees and managers. This in turn can further engage a workforce and also increase a business’s productivity levels.”
UK minister for culture, communications and creative industries, Ed Vaizey said the Government was working to improve connectivity.
“Government is transforming broadband across the UK and is on track to deliver superfast broadband coverage to 95% of the country by 2017,” he said.
“This investment in connectivity across the country is providing opportunities for a more flexible and efficient business environment which this report highlights.