26 January 2018 | Martin Read
Two-thirds of managers see a correlation between their organisation's performance and the technology it uses, although only half (54 per cent) describe their organisation as "technologically forward-thinking".
The figures come from analyst The Work Foundation, based at Lancaster University. Its latest report, Productivity, Technology & Working Anywhere, is based on results from a poll of 1,500 individuals by polling company Onepoll. It identifies the need for medium and large firms to "ensure workers, no matter where they are based, are supported and have the ability to do their job to the best possible level".
Researchers say they have established a "strong link" between technology and improving working practices, "and in the role technology plays in facilitating the increasing prevalence of smarter working, especially more mobile working and supporting distributed teams".
The report further suggests that the UK is ahead of EU countries in the adoption of flexible working technologies such as cloud computing. However, the country lags behind in the use of relationship management and resource planning systems.
Some participants argued that technology could in fact hinder productivity because it "may not improve ways of working for the better". Researchers cited the example of virtual teams having a perceived productivity advantage "tempered by the difficulty in knowledge sharing experienced by dispersed workforces".
What is required to maximise the productivity benefits surrounding newly introduced communications technology is "strong leadership at the highest levels" from the CEO down. This leadership needs to include a willingness to allow staff "the time and space to initiate and fulfil their potential".
An "openness to business development, innovation and continuous improvement" should include an appreciation that "organisational productivity could be enhanced by explicitly acknowledging that some individuals are more comfortable with experimenting, not least because they have access to and deploy different types of technology in their wider lives".
"Supporting the staff with these skills, giving them room to make mistakes, will allow them to trial new approaches in practice."
The full report can be accessed here.