24 October 2013

Technology and its influence on staff productivity

The rapid development of technology over the last 40 years has made a huge impact on both staff productivity and economic growth.

According to a report by O2 Business and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the productivity of office workers has increased by 480% since the 1970s.

This increase is largely down to technological advancements, such as the invention of email and the internet, mobile phones and the launch of products such as Microsoft Windows, Google and the iPhone. This technology means tasks are quicker and easier than they used to be. It also means we can now work from almost anywhere - we are no longer constricted to just the office or the traditional 9 - 5.

Colm Sheehy, Senior Economist at the CEBR said: “Productivity is important because it is the primary driver of economic growth in the long-run."

The report also predicts that the increased focus on digital working will result in a further 22% growth in productivity by 2020.

Measuring productivity

The report looked in depth at the individual productivity index of office-based sectors, which include accounting, marketing, financial services and IT. In particular, the professional, scientific, administrative and support sector saw the highest growth in labour productivity. The telecoms sector has also seen massive productivity gains since the 1990s with the rollout of 2G mobile networks.

During the period studied, the importance of office-based sectors in the economy has increased dramatically. Office-based sectors now employ 30% of the UK workforce, compared to 22% in 1978. In the same period, manufacturing sectors have reduced from 25% to 8% of the workforce.

Technology now costs less

Unsurprisingly, technology that was initially too expensive for many businesses, now costs virtually nothing. For example, in 1980 a gigabyte of hard disk space would have cost £120,000 in today’s money. Now it costs roughly 5 pence.