Ricoh Ireland reveals new research suggesting that mobile working is not seeing its full potential, with three quarters of Irish and British employees saying they are less productive away from their desks. This is surprising given that 61% of those surveyed sometimes work from home. Most felt they do not have the right technology to work effectively away from the office.
The research, developed and commissioned by Ricoh found only 25% of employees feel particularly productive when working from home. Just 9% felt productive in other offices and 8% in transit, compared with 75% when at their own desk.
Gary Hopwood, general manager, Ricoh Ireland, comments on these findings: "Given the recent focus on mobilising workforces, we were taken aback by some of these findings. They brought some home truths for both the technology industry and indeed employers. This is not about spending a fortune on technology, it is largely about making simple policy changes to provide employees with easy and secure access to company networks, applications and documents, as well as more training.
"As a country, Ireland is behind some others such as UK, Australia and the US in terms of directives and legislation to provide for the right to more flexible working hours and practices. We need to bring working practices up-to-date with the needs and choices of our modern families."
Mobile working - good, but could be better
The research shows employees embracing mobile working, with 61% saying they sometimes work from home. But a further 22% said they want to work from home but don't have the right technology, and nearly half (44%) of those who do work from home say not having the right technology hampers their productivity.
Working in transit was less popular. Only 40% of respondents work in transit, though a further 20% would if they had the right equipment. Of those that do, 40% said they would be more productive in transit if they had access to better technology.
Where implemented effectively, technology is seen as a vital enabler of productivity, especially for a mobile workforce. Respondents felt their productivity had been improved over recent years thanks to smartphones (67%), cloud (59%), tablets (52%), video conferencing (52%), and print management (49%).
Responses were fairly consistent across age groups, highlighting technology's growing ubiquity and wide acceptance.
What holds back productivity?
The research sought to identify what most hampered workplace productivity. IT and lateness were identified as the biggest concerns. Over half, 54%, said 1-3 hours per week were wasted with IT problems and exactly the same was said about waiting for people who were late for calls and meetings. When asked to specifically name the biggest waste of time in their company, 14% named meetings, largely citing either lateness or pointlessness, and 8% cited IT and printing issues. Surprisingly, less than 1% mentioned social media.
Technology and productivity
Respondents were largely optimistic about how technology could improve productivity, and felt the following would be good investments for their company: virtual profiles allowing access to the IT set up from any device (50%); online collaboration tools (48%); and tablets to replace paper documents in meetings (44%). Similar number of respondents hoped technology would eliminate the following tasks in the next few years: using paper records (52%), printing documents prior to meetings (46%), and taking written notes (43%).
Hopwood concludes "I believe that employers need to take more responsibility for the out-of-office working environments of their workers. More training and better infrastructure is needed. There is also a responsibility on government to ensure that internet speeds are sufficient to ensure that everybody can work productively away from the office."
The research was carried out amongst 1,007 full time, office based employees in private companies in Ireland and Britain. The research was designed by Ricoh and the field work was carried out by Censuswide.