January 28, 2015
The full extent of the way digital technology is transforming British working life is apparent in new research published by Brunel University. The study – essentially a snapshot of the digital revolution in 2015 – found that 98 percent of the 830 businesses surveyed have a website, 8 in 10 manage finances online, 53 percent provide flexible working and 63 percent see innovation as a way to improve customer satisfaction. However, the study also reveals a major gulf between big business and SMEs, with larger firms significantly more digitised than their smaller contemporaries. This raises concerns over the preparedness of the SME sector at a time when the Government’s growth agenda has prioritised nurturing and supporting new and evolving enterprises – and for whom the digital battleground has broken down traditional barriers to entry.
January 23, 2015
The grassroots nature of flexible working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices is revealed in a new study from Intel Security which found that over three quarters (78 percent) of employees use their own electronic devices to work while a similar proportion (79 percent) use their company-issued devices for their personal activities. The survey of 2,500 professionals worldwide also found that 40 percent of people are happy to work ‘wherever’. While firms continue to have concerns about the security implications of BYOD and an itinerant workforce, their employees are rather more confident with the overwhelming majority (77 percent) confident that their employers have taken all appropriate security measures to protect data, even though a third (35 percent) admit that they log onto unsecured public wireless networks.
January 22, 2015
Despite greater awareness of the potential benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), especially as a way of supporting flexible workers, a large number of European firms remain concerned about the security implications of the practice, according to a new study by HP of their attitudes to workplace technology. The study of 1,130 organisations in eight European countries found half believe that BYOD was likely to compromise their organisation and of those firms who had already implemented the practice, a fifth had experienced at least one security breach in the preceding year. In addition, fewer than half (43 percent) are confident that personal devices are properly secure, with a third (36 percent) expressing specific concerns about the contamination of networks with malware and viruses.
January 22, 2015
With all the chatter regarding BYOD and wearable tech, you’d think that the average worker must roam free. Yet worldwide, over three quarters (79 percent) of office workers still use a desktop computer; just over a third (36 percent) have devices that allow for mobility and only 39 percent of office workers can work from alternative places at least once a week. Those were just some of the results of a global survey carried out by Steelcase into levels of satisfaction amongst office workers. And far from encouraging mobile working the survey found that well over half (57 percent) of companies do not have facilities for mobile workers and external suppliers. Such low levels of mobility had led a significant proportion (41 percent) of the 7324 participants from 10 countries, to say they were “not satisfied” with their work environment.
January 21, 2015
The divides in the UK economy are not only geographical, but also technological. That is the conclusion of two new reports into the country’s economic makeup and the differences that mark out the North and South of the UK as well as its rural and urban economies. While the Centre for Cities 2015 Outlook report has focused attention on the North South divide with widespread media coverage, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has also identified a second split between the digital economies of urban and rural areas. The former report paints a picture of a two-speed economy and a widening gap between South-East England and the rest of the UK while the latter highlights the damage done to businesses in rural areas as they struggle to cope with sub-par broadband.
January 19, 2015
One of the particular and often unspoken issues that shadows in any debate about flexible working is what we mean by the term. We’ve been talking about new ways of working for a good quarter of a century now and what is generally understood about the practice has evolved considerably. The very idea was conceived at the birth of the new online era so is inextricably tied up with the Internet and new technology. That is why it first became a significant business issue in the mid 1990s as we felt the pre-shocks of the coming seismic disruption of the Internet. Laptops became commercially viable for the first time in the early 1990s and the UK’s first text message was sent in 1992. Authors such as Charles Handy were popularising the notion that our entire relationship with work was about to change.
January 13, 2015
Leeds is the latest UK city to announce the roll-out of free city-wide Wi-Fi. Although full details are yet to be confirmed, the contract with telecommunications firm aql will initially target areas of Leeds with poor levels of connectivity. Leeds City Council has already installed free Wi-Fi in over 100 council buildings including libraries, museums and leisure centres as part of the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme which was announced in 2012 to invest £100 million in the provision of ultrafast broadband in ten of the country’s major cities. In November of last year, Derry also announced the rollout of city-wide Wi-Fi as part of a plan to transform the local economy.
January 9, 2015
Although we would normally offer the findings of a survey without comment, preferring readers to add their own pinch of salt, it’s sometimes interesting to question the way research is presented. This week a study by O2 claimed that in the six months since nearly all full time UK workers were granted the right to request flexible working, 23 percent of staff have taken advantage of the option. While there is nothing unusual in a mobile tech firm producing a survey about flexible working, what is interesting is that they have chosen to present this as ‘only 23 percent’ and many in the press have gone along with it. Now, unless I’ve missed something, isn’t it actually remarkable that nearly a quarter of UK employees have requested flexible working in a six month period?
January 8, 2015
Described as ‘key to growth in the sector’ by chief construction adviser, Peter Hansford and increasingly recognised as a much more collaborative and efficient way of working, Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to gather supporters from across the industry, yet there is a percentage of people who are still keeping their heads down and hoping it will all just go away. Maybe it’s the required element of investment or maybe it’s the small matter of change itself – always a difficult one for the construction industry – but there is still an amount of SMEs who are shrinking away from BIM, despite the fact that it is destined to become the established way.
January 7, 2015
A new report by TechPro Research claims that just five years after it was first given the label, the practice of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is now so prevalent that nearly three quarters (74 percent) of organisations are either already using or planning to allow employees to bring their own devices to work. The report contrasts with past research into the uptake of BYOD to show how quickly the practice is developing and its implications for companies as a way of introducing new working practices and cutting costs (their own, natch) but also in the way they deal with the potential downsides relating to security and maintenance. The report also looks at the evolving role of the practice in light of new technologies such as wearable tech and the Internet of Things.
January 5, 2015
We may be finding out a lot more about the way smartphones shape our behaviour, but a new study from Swiss researchers at the University of Zürich and Fribourg claims that any changes may go a little deeper than the obsessive need to peer at them. It suggests that while repeated and regular use of smartphones improves how quickly and dextrously we use screens and keystrokes, the cortex of our brains is also adapting to cope with the new demands we place on it. Touchscreen usage appears to actually change the way our fingers, thumbs and brains work, according to the report published in the journal Current Biology. The study appears to show that the increased use of touchscreens in the recent past has resulted in an instinctive increase in brain activity when our fingertips are touched.
January 1, 2015
A report published at the end of December by the non-profit Pew Research Center claims that while nearly half of US workers believe that new technology helps them to be more productive, it also means they are working significantly longer hours. The study of 535 people claims that 46 per cent of US workers believe that the internet, email, and mobile phones have upped their productivity, while only 7 per cent think they have led to a fall in their productivity. Over a third (39 percent) of those surveyed say that they now have more flexible working hours, and a similar number (35 percent) believe that new technology has increased the number of hours they work. For office based workers the changes are even more pronounced with nearly half (47 percent) seeing an increase in their working hours.