Smarter working shortcomings set to cost British businesses £1.6bn

  • By failing to embrace new ways of working, Britain’s businesses could miss out on a combined saving of 6.6 million hours and £1.6 billion per week[1]
  • O2 urges Britain’s businesses to adopt an “Anywhere Office” approach to drive growth

With productivity playing an increasingly central role in driving the UK’s economic success, new research from O2 shows that growth will come from challenging the norm of the working day by maximising the benefits of technology. Crucially, the report shows that allowing private sector employees to use technology devices to adopt an “Anywhere Office” approach to work could power a combined saving of 6.6 million hours per week – or a potential £1.6 billion.

The report, Redefining selling, serving and working, commissioned by O2, reveals a desire from almost half (46%) of employees to break the 9-5 to help them become more efficient and achieve greater career success – but with just 48% of Britain’s businesses having integrated digital into their business strategy, they risk being held back.

For those businesses that have introduced an Anywhere Office policy, greater efficiency is cited as the greatest benefit,[2] while a third (31%) think that using technology such as smartphones and collaboration software at work allows them to save time during their working week.

Ben Dowd, Business Director at O2 says: “In the wake of the Bank of England’s latest Inflation Report, the productivity of Britain’s businesses is under more scrutiny than ever.[3] But our report shows that it’s not about making the country work harder – it’s about using the technology already at the fingertips of businesses to work smarter.

“Taking this approach doesn’t mean employees should be accessible 24/7; it means giving people the option to work in a way that suits them, in order to drive maximum productivity and – in turn – power economic growth for the UK as a whole.”

Additional findings from the report show:

  • In terms of the benefits enabled by the use of technology at work, employers believe it:
    • Improves colleague collaboration (55%)
    • Facilitates greater business efficiency (44%)
    • Leads to increased customer satisfaction (37%)
  • Of the sectors that are adopting the Anywhere Office:
    • Four fifths (80%) of senior managers in the professional services sector agree that remote working is becoming increasingly common in their organisation
    • This compares to just 58% in the retail and leisure sector

O2 has issued 5 key pieces of advice to businesses on how to introduce an Anywhere Office:1.    Introduce flexible working hours, allowing employees to work at times of the day that suit them2.    Equip employees to work securely from anywhere – this can be easily achieved by something as simple as ensuring that every employee has a company laptop, mobile or tablet

3.    Provide access to fast and reliable connectivity

4.    Get a web-based data storage service, which allows employees to simultaneously work on a document from wherever they are

5.    Make journeys more efficient – arm employees with the tools to make journeys a productive part of the working day

NOTES TO EDITORSTo download the report in full, please visit

About the report:

YouGov produced a report for O2 Enterprise based on the research findings. The aim of the research was to investigate the role that technology plays in transforming the way private businesses and public sector organisations work, and how they sell to and serve customers.


YouGov conducted 3 surveys between 19th and 25th March 2015. The surveys were approximately 10-15 minutes in length.

The total sample size was 3,638 – 1,020 senior managers, 542 employees, and 2,076 consumers. The business sample was conducted amongst businesses and organisations in both the private and public sectors. These industries were manufacturing, construction and utilities, financial services, retail and leisure, professional services, transportation, healthcare, local government, criminal justice and emergency services, central government, and education. The sample breakdown is below:

  • Survey 1: Senior management: Middle managers and above, working in organisations with a minimum of 250 UK employees. Within this sample, a number of industries were targeted in both the private and public sectors (see table below)
  • Survey 2: Employees: Junior to senior employees from organisations with a minimum of 250 UK employees. Within this sample, a number of industries were targeted in both the private and public sectors (see table below)
  • Survey 3: Consumers: A nationally representative UK sample with data splits by region, gender, age, and social grade. YouGov interviewed 2,076 respondents

The extrapolation for data point [1] was conducted by understanding the total number of private sector employees within companies of 250+ (9,763,000) according to ONS data. For the public sector this extrapolation was based upon 5,129,000 employees. For the extrapolation for the private sector, YouGov selected those that worked in the relevant sectors which were as near to those within the survey as possible (Manufacturing,1,102,000; Construction 296,000; Retail 2,629,000; Transportation 752,000; Accommodation and Food Service Activities 760,000; Information and Communication 503,00; Financial and Insurance Activities 827,000; Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities 491,000; Administrative and Support Service Activities 1,281,000; Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 214,00). This equated to 8,855,000 employees of the targeted individuals. Using the employee survey, we then looked at the proportion of employees that were middle management and above (35% in the private sector and 23% in the public sector) and calculated the data accordingly. We then looked at the proportion of senior managers who use devices and business software apps and services and then multiplied the survey data by the total population of senior managers. Note that these figures are based upon respondent claimed data. It is also estimated data and this needs to be conveyed.

[1] Note that the extrapolation of the data has been conducted based upon senior managers in organisations with 250+ employees. Full details on the extrapolation are found in the Notes to Editors.

[2] When asked to select the benefits of using business technology on their working week, 40% of employees agreed that it helped them be more efficient

[3] In the Bank of England’s Inflation Report issued 13th May 2015, Mark Carney stated that “Going forward, growth in the UK economy’s potential will increasingly depend on productivity”