The average field-based employee in the UK spends just 1.5 days per week on their core job, a new report commissioned by Totalmobile and supported by professors from the University of Surrey's Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) has revealed.
Based on research carried out with more than 220 organisations by London-based agency Loudmouth, the report sheds light on the productivity challenge faced by UK businesses and bodies which have a mobile workforce, and the opportunity that exists to address it.
Amongst the report's key findings is that the average field-based worker – of which there are more than 3.5million in the UK - spends almost three-quarters of their week on things like administration, travel and meetings.
Roles covered by the report, which is entitled The Age of Peak Mobility, range from community-based care workers to boiler repair people. 21% of their time, on average, is spent on travel, for instance, and more than 23% is taken up completing admin or paperwork on site or at home.
The upshot of this is that organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors are not operating as efficiently as they could be, leading to more pressure on staff, lower service levels than might otherwise be achieved, and ultimately higher costs for taxpayers and customers.
95% of organisations surveyed said that they think technology will play an important role in improving productivity by, for example, helping reduce travel time, offering more support in the field, and cutting down on administration.
Professor Alan Brown and Professor Roger Maull of CoDE said: "National productivity in the UK is now 20% below the trendline before the financial crisis of 2008, and the reality is that unless we do something about it, this is likely to worsen as work becomes more complex and varied and demands on workers grow. The solution isn't in getting more out of already squeezed workers, it's about changing what they do day-to-day and removing some of the barriers that impede greater productivity. We need to transform how people work, with technology playing an important role in this, and it should be looked upon as a continual journey."
Jim Darragh, CEO of Totalmobile, said: "We have a productivity crisis in the UK, we need a way out of it, and the opportunity exists to vastly improve the productive output of mobile workforces through the effective deployment of the right technology solutions".
"Many mobile workers need a solution that takes care of time-consuming admin, journey planning and paperwork, but they are currently having to make do with the same tools they did years ago. This is at the same time as they are faced with bigger jobs lists, more to do in a day, and more to report on for every interaction. The unfortunate result is the current situation in which mobile workers spend as little as 30% of their time on client work," he adds.
Fife Council is one organisation that recognised the productivity challenge in its workforce and put in place a strategy to deal with this, including the introduction of mobile working technology.
Charlie Anderson, Head of ICT, Fife Council, explains: "We recognised the need to address productivity in our mobile workforce in order to deliver more effective public services. We therefore set out a clear objective of transforming care at home through the effective use of mobile technology. Working with Totalmobile, we put in place a solution that has reduced travel time, increased capacity, and enabled us to do more with the staff we have. That has allowed 33 percent capacity gains. We therefore effectively give back a day-and-a-half to every care worker per week, allowing them to do more in the same time for the benefit of service users."
The research underpinning The Age of Peak Mobility was carried out by Loudmouth in the first half of 2018, with more than 220 IT decision-makers at UK organisations, including IT directors/ managers, and Transformation/Change directors. The intention was to explore how productive field-based mobile employees are today, and the aspirations organisations have for driving improvement in their frontline operations.