Almost a third of the UK working population – 10.4 million people – could be using smartphones to be more productive at work, according to new research from Deloitte, Mobile Readiness for Work, which is based on survey responses from 3,369 UK workers.
Going mobile: narrowing the productivity gap
The study found that of the 32.3 million people in work in the UK, the majority (51%) spend some time away from a fixed location for their role. Of all these workers, only 37% currently use a smartphone or tablet for work purposes, with the remainder either using a PC, other devices such as handheld electronic devices or no technology at all within their role. This means that there are 10.4 million employees – almost a third of the UK’s working population – who do not spend all of their time at a fixed location and also do not use a mobile device.
“For any role that requires movement, mobile technology should be essential. Almost one-in-three UK workers do not use a mobile device, despite spending a proportion of their time working away from a desk. There is a clear opportunity to narrow the productivity gap through improving the technology that is issued to employees. With every year tablets and smartphones become more capable: they are more powerful, secure and connect faster,” commented Dan Adams, head of telecommunications at Deloitte.
“Many consumer processes, from payments to travel to consulting doctors, have been re-designed for a mobile screen and the same revolution can now benefit the UK’s businesses. UK workers can unshackle themselves from their desks, and leave their bulky laptops behind. It is no wonder that we are seeing smartphones becoming the ideal device to enable employees to access information and respond to it on the go. The smartphone will play a pivotal role in transforming the workplace and significantly improve productivity.”
Device adoption at work
Deloitte’s research found that mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are used by 40% of the UK working population – the equivalent of almost 13 million people – while the majority of UK employees continue to use a laptop or desktop computer at work (62%).
Overall, laptops were the most common device for work purposes, used by 37% of respondents, narrowly followed by desktop computers (36%) and smartphones (34%). Tablets, which were the fourth most popular device, were used by a significantly lower proportion, at 14%.
“For consumers, smartphones have become integral to many aspects of their daily lives, but this revolution has yet to happen in the workplace. Businesses should make core processes accessible via mobile devices. In many cases this may require the creation of a brand new app: the existing PC based application cannot be simply dragged and dropped into a smaller space,” said Paul Lee, partner and head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte.
“As technology becomes more sophisticated and apps become more available, employers will respond by deploying mobile more widely. The smartphone will become used for a broader range of work processes, with the PC becoming a more specialised device used for more complex tasks, such as data analysis, which require a larger screen.”
Analogue inefficiencies: defeating doubling-up
Deloitte’s analysis identified the typical tasks that are carried out by the UK workforce. Tasks including timesheet management, job allocation, communication with clients and colleagues and accessing information can all be carried out using a smartphone instead of a desktop computer or laptop.
Despite this, Deloitte’s research found that of those who don’t use a smartphone or tablet to carry out a task, 42% of respondents said they believe the screen to be too small – this will often be because applications have not been redesigned to work well within a smartphone or tablet screen.
Significantly, the research also revealed a proportion of workers that are ‘doubling-up’ tasks by not being ‘digital-first’. On average, across all industries, 24% of workers fill out forms on paper. Of these, two-thirds of workers who fill out forms on paper then copy data onto a digital format, most commonly using a PC. This means that more than 5 million people in the UK are doubling-up on some tasks.
Lee added: “As technology, connectivity and applications improve, the total amount of tasks that can be done using a mobile device should rise, across all levels of skilled and unskilled employment. There is a big opportunity to make mobile much more a part of driving productivity and speeding up processes.”