A new research paper produced by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation and commissioned by Citrix, fitting called ‘Productivity, Technology & Working Anywhere’, has aimed to explore exactly that, and has yielded some interesting insights in the process. For instance 24% of UK-based managers questioned for the report believe their organisation is not technologically ‘forward thinking’, which is having a knock-on effect on productivity. Additionally a whopping 63% of knowledge workers polled believe they are no more productive today than they were three years ago, with 17% even admitting to being less industrious now than in the past.

The survey, which involved 1,000 knowledge workers and 500 managerial level employees across the UK, did show a clear and positive link between correctly-implemented technology and workplace productivity, but insists that any potential gains are often squandered due to poor business planning, a lack of innovation, out-dated IT, and low uptake of flexible working cultures, all of which appear to be far-too-common amongst UK businesses.

Reassuringly those polled to seem to recognise the positive impact that technology can have on the workplace and the productivity levels of the staff working within, as demonstrated by the 80% of workers polled who openly acknowledged the positive effect access to technology can have on their productivity levels. As for which factors are deemed most crucial in regards to the productivity levels of the workforce, 53% of employee-level respondents insist that technology is a top influencer, while 45% say the same of changing working practices such as flexible working. The managers seem largely in agreement, with training and skills (51%), stronger leadership (46%) and better technology (44%) listed as key points of focus for improvement.

In an effort to resolve this clear and widespread issue, the authors of the report outlined four key recommendations for businesses:

Leadership: It is vital that leaders both tell the story, and live the values embodied in it. Leadership visibility, accessibility and storytelling are therefore crucial in times of change to raise sights and build the aspirational goal or vision to work towards.

Innovation: Organisational productivity could be enhanced by explicitly acknowledging that some individuals are more comfortable with experimenting with new technologies and processes than others. By supporting such ‘innovation champions’ or ‘intrapreneurs’ – who aren’t always at the senior level but have the skills to identify and put new processes into practice – and giving them room to make mistakes, organisations set themselves up to discover new and more efficient ways of performing for their customers or users.

Policies, procedures, evaluation & planning: Once new innovations and practices are more widely rolled out, it is important that the fit between old and new are appropriately reviewed and old policies updated, otherwise the effects of new ways of working will be limited. It is essential therefore that in any change programme, organisations deploy transparent systems and processes to support the new delivery on the ground.

Management & employee engagement: A successful change strategy also depends on a collaborative approach which pools knowledge, expertise and resources from across the organisation. Rather than simply deploying new technology deemed appropriate by the leadership, the resulting vision needs to be built on a strong rational, case for change at all levels. Line managers play a critical role here as the interface between employees and the strategic decision makers in an organisation.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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