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Can Smart Technologies Boost Productivity in the Workplace?

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There is a general attitude amongst business owners and employers that is less than positive when it comes to their staff using smartphone devices in the workplace. They generally believe they are a distraction to staff and can cost them time. However, the post-digital generation, who have grown up with these technologies around them could be set to shape the way smartphones are incorporated into the workplace in the future.

In January 2017, it was revealed by the Labour Force Survey that there were 31.85 million people in employment. With an estimate of over 42.2 million people using smartphones, that’s approximately 10.55 million more smartphones that there are people with jobs. Is that to say that smartphones could be set to change daily work practices? Maybe.

Management software providers, United Carlton investigate whether allowing staff to use their smartphone in the workplace could actually boost productivity.

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What do Employers Think?

Despite the majority of employers owning smartphones themselves, their attitudes towards using them in the workplace is less than positive. In fact, according to the University of Surrey, 11% believed that it was unacceptable for a mobile phone to be turned on during a meeting, and a further 80% believed that it was inappropriate to read or send text messages whilst in the company of other colleagues or their boss.

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But where do these attitudes derive from? As for most employers, these attitudes are based on the fact that they view smartphones as a distraction to their staff which could preoccupy them from work tasks risking reducing an employee’s time to complete a task by up to 20 minutes. For employers, this isn’t very productive.

Despite these attitudes, they also feel like they can’t implement a mobile phone policy on their staff in the risk that they might ‘spit the dummy at a mobile phone policy’ says one small business expert. However, if employers showed their staff the maths behind their decision, they have no choice but to cooperate or risk the safety of their job.

Implementing the BYOD Culture

If employers is to stick with their guns and allow their attitudes towards smartphones to influence a definite decision, they might find that they are losing out on a great opportunity to potentially improve staff time efficiency and boost productivity. The BYOD culture, also known as the ‘bring your own device’ culture, allows employees to stay connected within the workplace.

If staff can connect their devices to wireless networks within the workplace, they have the opportunity to complete tasks away from their desk, which in turn can save time. Facts and figures from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group claimed that ‘the average BYOD user across countries saves 37 minutes per week thanks to using their own device.’ This is because these users are working on the go and between ‘dead-times’ in the office when they aren’t stationed at a computer.

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Benefiting companies on a global scale, smart devices can actually aid staff towards productivity rather than distract them away from it. The figures vary per country: smartphone users within the United States saved a total of 81 minutes per week by using smart technologies at work, whereas those in Germany saved four minutes per week. Additionally, whilst users have the opportunity to save time whilst in the workplace, those who can implement their own technologies into their working practices are more likely to take work home with them to complete out of hours. Some employers could work up to an extra two hours per day – or send an extra 20 emails per day. Therefore, again, saving an employer money rather than costing them it.

Users can free up precious working time during the day by saving time on other tasks such as using their device as a mobile printing device – all they need is a compatible printer within range that is connected to the same network. Being able to print from anywhere in the office or externally, means your staff don’t have to remain at their desk or return to their desk to complete small mandatory tasks.

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For employers who are ruling out the BYOD culture with even a trial period and considering implementing a mobile phone policy instead, they could be missing out on an opportunity that could benefit the business across all departments, whilst also encouraging their staff to engage more with the company using a platform they are familiar with, especially amongst the post-digital generation. If businesses aren’t willing to incorporate change into outdated processes, then perhaps these operational efficiency may not be experienced by many for years to come.

However, with that in mind, the employers that are willing to give it a go could see an improvement in time efficiency and a boost in productivity. In fact, the figures suggest that employers could actually see a 16% boost in productivity over a 40-hour week, a 23% rise in job satisfaction and a 21% rise in company loyalty. This could be even more beneficial for companies with several locations across the globe, with research proving that smart technologies are aiding employees to save time on tasks on a global scale, not just in the UK. BYOD culture could be a strategy that’s worth investing your time into.

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