The UK faces a productivity crisis. It currently sits seventh in the G7 and 17th in the G20 for productivity per person, but technology innovation can turn that around.
In recent years, a challenging economic climate has led to UK SME employees working increasingly longer hours every day. However, studies have shown that these longer hours have not increased workers’ productivity. As a result, UK SMEs are tasked with needing to increase their productivity without spending more time in the office.
A simple solution for improving the day-to-day activities of their workforce could be by taking a sensible approach to technology innovation.
Samsung’s More Good Days study found that SME owners believe that their team having the latest technology innovation is a bigger asset for increasing productivity than always being contactable and having access to emails outside of work hours.
However, SMEs are failing to take their own advice and aren’t investing in the technology that they believe will help them.
It isn’t just a lack of investment in devices that is hindering productivity in the UK. Many SMEs are failing to invest in technology innovation in general. In fact, SME employees are losing up to four hours a week, as they help colleagues with issues caused by outdated technology or devices.
In particular, the adoption of mobile technology isn’t as widespread as you might expect in the business world. Many SMEs have still not begun offering these devices to staff, with nearly a third (31 per cent) of employees not receiving smartphones, and over a quarter (27 per cent) not being provided with laptops.
Embracing the potential of technology innovation
Specifically, mobile technology holds a large amount of potential for improving workplace productivity. One of the most well-known benefits, and something which delivers a significant boost to productivity, is that being constantly connected enables employees to work more freely, and outside of the restrictions of a traditional workplace.
In a recent study, over half (58 per cent) of workers said that remote working helps them to get closer to clients and to arrange important meetings. This ability to work and respond in real time is a huge boon for SMEs who have fine margins and limited resources.
Working on-the-go is only one boost for SME productivity, however. Mobile technology involves a combination of the devices themselves, whether they be personal or provided by the employer, and useful collaboration applications and tools.
Utilising the range of business and work applications now available, such as Skype and Slack, employees can experience similar working environments on their mobile as they would on a desktop.
Not only this, but it is now possible for employees to use devices with their smartphones to experience a complete desktop environment. Technology such as the Samsung DeX, which links with a smartphone and desktop screen, means that a worker can replicate their workplace experience with just a smartphone and display.
This benefits SMEs, as they can reduce office space and costs in lieu of these innovations – and they don’t require extensive IT infrastructure.
What’s holding businesses back?
While adopting mobile technology is one of the easiest ways for a business to improve productivity, it’s not without its challenges. Businesses that don’t introduce mobiles into the workplace may think they’re spared from having to manage them, but the reality is that workers will just use their own devices.
When employees utilise their own devices for work, it becomes difficult for a business to moderate the content on the device, or ensure its data is secure from threats such as viruses or malware. In fact, the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 revealed that almost half (46 per cent) of UK businesses are exposed to security risks through BYOD.
These risks may deter businesses from adopting any kind of mobile strategy, as data breaches can be devastating for SMEs, which may not have the same levels of insurance as bigger companies. While management solutions exist for securing mobile devices, an employer would be limited to only applying these on business-owned devices, as opposed to personal ones.
An SME may also be limited by a lack of awareness of the benefits of business devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets.
With the rise of remote workspaces, and an increasingly connected workforce, businesses are learning more about the ways technology innovation can be used to increase their productivity and lead to increased profitability.
It’s clear that businesses already understand that having the latest technology available is important for their success.
However, by failing to invest in technology, not only are SMEs losing out on the benefits of the latest devices, but as their current systems get older, they’re costing themselves valuable time and energy.
Those that fail to innovate now, and don’t adapt to these new workplace challenges, face losing both customers and staff to competitors that offer the convenience and efficiency of the latest technologies.
Graham Long is VP of Enterprise Business at Samsung