Productivity is a persistent problem in the UK, as the national output per hour lags well behind the levels of other G7 nations. The latest government figures on the issue confirmed that the UK is lagging 18 percentage points behind the average output per hour across other G7 nations. Yet the UK can stride towards a more productive future by embracing the possibilities that technology provides for more flexible and collaborative working.
The impact of flexible working on productivity is well-documented, and in the light of the UK’s persistent productivity problem, there is increased need to take the potential of flexible working seriously. In research by Vodafone, which surveyed 8,000 global employers and employees, 83 per cent said they had seen an improvement in productivity after introducing flexible working arrangements. In addition, 61 per cent of respondents said profits had increased. This adds to research suggesting that UK businesses could make productivity gains of £8.1 billion by optimising flexible working.
The debate around productivity-boosting measures can sometimes jeopardise employee engagement, creating the feeling that measures to address productivity are somehow an indictment of the individual worker. Flexible working acts as an important boost to productivity not only because it allows employees to work when and where it suits them best, but also because it empowers individuals by handing them a degree of autonomy.
Introducing a flexible working policy has not always been entirely straightforward, but advances in workplace technology have now made the process more streamlined than ever. Business leaders can make their office spaces responsive to the requirements of their flexible workforce, and collaborative technologies have made working together from multiple locations a real possibility. Employees have been calling for increasingly flexible working structures for a while, and the technology ensures that these measures are now not only possible, but productive.