Workers and managers lack technology to collaborate

HR must highlight the return potential of investing in collaboration technology, said Ricoh UK’s people director - ©Kateryna/Adobe Stock

Nearly a third (28%) of UK and Irish employees lack the technology to collaborate with colleagues at work, the results of a poll commissioned by the printing and technology manufacturer Ricoh has shown.

Ricoh Europe commissioned Opinion Matters to conduct a survey of 2,000 workers and 300 decision-makers across the UK and Ireland in February. Findings were published yesterday (2 May).

Of the 28% of workers that lack collaboration technology, 15% reported not having access to video conferencing and software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

A further one in four of the decision-makers polled described their collaboration technology as not up to standard.

Reacting to the figures, Simon White, chief people officer for the HR software business Blink, told HR magazine: “These stats are very concerning, but in our experience, the numbers increase significantly when you factor in the variety of roles within a team, particularly teams that include deskless workers.”

Read more: Employees prefer to communicate via video calls 

White continued: “The concept of a digital divide is real when it comes to collaboration and communication tools. It goes beyond simply having, or not having, software. It’s about updating processes and resources to ensure that the way we work – be it flexible, remote or deskless – does not create a lesser experience or output for employees.

“Businesses that invest in this technology and prioritise its implementation and usage can see a very quick return, ranging from increased productivity to increased employee engagement. All of this has a positive impact on employee retention.”

Rebekah Wallis, Ricoh UK’s director of people and ESG, agreed, and urged HR leaders to highlight the return potential of investing in collaboration technology.

Speaking to HR magazine, Wallis said that HR leaders must communicate the ways in which digital investment can reduce operational costs, including office-related maintenance costs and the prices associated with hiring from a broad geographic range.

Wallis added: “As HR leaders, it's crucial that we make a compelling case to our C-suite colleagues about the tangible benefits of investing in technologies that enable remote collaboration, virtual communication and seamless access to resources from anywhere. By doing so, we not only empower our workforce to thrive in a flexible environment but we position our organisations as forward-thinking and competitive in the race for talent."

Noting the less-than-ideal economic climate, White said: “The macroeconomic situation in the world right now means that the idea of nice-to-have software isn’t top of the list when it comes to budget allocation for most organisations. But this software isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. When fully embraced it can have a transformative effect across all areas of a business.”

Read more: Digital tools cause intergenerational conflict at work, research suggests

Dina Knight, chief people officer for the tech provider Logicalis, told HR magazine that prioritising secure and efficient technology alongside collaboration tools is essential to driving innovation and productivity. “Employers who fail to accommodate hybrid needs risk a less productive and collaborative workforce, neglecting individual employee needs,” she said.

Knight added: “Organisations must adopt some form of flexibility, with the technology that supports that, to attract, retain and develop talent long term.”

For Katie Obi, chief people officer for the software firm OneAdvanced, granting access to digital collaboration tools is a matter of fairness. Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “In order to make different working arrangements practical, all employees must have access to the appropriate technology.

“By implementing effective technologies that enable people to work remotely, with a focus on productivity and quality of output, we can set everyone up for success.

“The role of an HR leader is to advocate for tools and environments that ensure everyone is supported, while ensuring that we maximise productivity and customer outcomes. If done right, this is a win-win for all involved.”

Underscoring that point, Wallis said: “Investing in the right technologies is not just about enabling flexible working, it's about futureproofing our organisations and ensuring that we remain agile, resilient, and attractive to the best talent.”