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WiFi and productivity: How it is redefining the workplace

In the last ten years, there is no doubt that WiFi is redefining the workplace; employees can remain connected to the internet all day, without being tied down to a hardware device such as a computer that can’t be moved from a desk.
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The combination of a reliable online network and a mobile device is redefining the workplace by making it more flexible, less dictated by timescales and more susceptible to rapid changes. But how has it impacted employee productivity?

Together with KBR we explored how mobile internet connectivity is redefining the workplace and have established just how WiFi has made us more efficient and productive.

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The relationship between WiFi and BYOD culture

Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a growing trend allowing employees to bring their own smart device, whether it is a mobile-phone a tablet or a laptop, and use it as part of their working practice when using a WiFi network. And there are many instances, when used correctly, where BYOD and a mobile internet connection can boost productivity.

As a result of always being connected to the internet, employees can attend to tasks in ways they couldn’t before. For example, workers can reply to emails on their way to a meeting or outside of the office, and can work on tasks during dead-time in the day. In fact, a study conducted by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found “the average global BYOD user saves 37 minutes per week thanks to their own devices“. Although some countries save more time than others, what this suggests is that WiFi networks, alongside a BYOD culture, is redefining the workplace.

It is estimated that the connected employee is working an extra two hours every day and sending 20 more emails, which is an impressive addition to productivity within the working week outside of designated hours. This is likely to be because employees are more comfortable, and more aware of how to use their own devices. But this increase in productivity does come at a cost; businesses have to spend more money than ever before on security measures.

Shifting priorities in an era where WiFi is redefining the workplace

The burning debate for many is whether or not increased WiFi connectivity leads to increased distractions in the office. The answer to this question isn’t as straight-forward as corporations would like it to be. Although employees are more connected, they will spend more time during the day checking their personal devices for updates. This works both ways. When something goes wrong in an employee’s personal life, they may be able to deal with the situation from the office.

The WiFi situation around the globe

Disengaged employees account for a cost of $3,400 for every $10,000 worth of salary in the US. For every starting salary of £16,376 in the UK, this can cost an employer £5,569 worth of disengagement. As research suggests, what makes employees more engaged is a mobile device and a reliable WiFi connection.

Based on a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which surveyed 1,865 employees, those who were connected to the internet on a mobile device contributed a 16 per cent boost in productivity for that business, and an 18 per cent boost in the actual creativity of employees when at work. Based on a 40 hour working week, this means that one such employee contributes 6.4 hours of productivity per week. If more employees become motivated by mobile technologies, then the savings in productivity efficiencies can become abundant.

As well as productivity, it was established that job satisfaction increased by 23 per cent and loyalty to the company increased by 21 per cent. This is probably down to the fact that employees can feel empowered when using their own smart-device. What is also clear is that businesses adopting a BYOD and interconnected WiFi policy succeed when it comes to increased productivity. So if bosses want to get the most out of staff, then trusting them with mobile devices is the best option.

Written by Gareth Tomlin from KBR.

This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes – and feel to ask us your broadband queries. Get in touch via email (shane.schutte@realbusiness.co.uk) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.

Image: Shutterstock

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