There are significant disparities between public sector leaders and staff when it comes to the deployment of technology to create the optimal working environment for productivity, new research reveals*.
The poll, carried out by Censuswide, quizzed 200 employees and 150 IT and HR leaders from across large UK public sector organisations (employing at least 250 people) – both before and during the government-imposed lockdown due to COVID-19. Respondents were asked about the deployment of workplace technology and their view of how it relates to productivity levels.
Disconnect: IT and HR leaders vs. broader staff
Almost three in four (73%) staff members believe “serious change” needs to happen to allow them to be at their most productive – an increase of 10% on pre-lockdown findings. This is in stark contrast to the three in five (62%) leaders who claim their organisation is working at optimum productivity. Interestingly, this is up on the 48% who took this view pre-lockdown, implying leaders feel those working from home may have increased output levels.
Nearly half (44%) of public sector leaders confirmed that technology which enables greater employee flexibility is key to boosting workforce efficiency, e.g. the ability to be equally productive on their work device whether in the workplace, on the move or working remotely. This is in contrast to pre-lockdown figures of 59%. This 15% swing pre- and post-lockdown suggests decision-makers might be unsure they made the right technology investments pre-lockdown, with confidence in the selected technology’s ability to deliver seemingly falling.
“The abrupt shift to home working, enforced by COVID-19 restrictions, has put the digital employee experience front of mind – for both workers and leaders. These findings indicate a clear divide between leaders and staff, with technology seemingly not being deployed in the right way to deliver the required productivity gains,” Darren Fields, Regional Vice President, UK & Ireland, Citrix, said.
Outdated technology holding back productivity
When asked how they could be more productive in their roles, one in three (34%) staff members called for more flexible technology that empowers them to work in the way that suits them – an increase on pre-lockdown figures of 25%. This is 11% more than those who called for financial rewards (23%), demonstrating the value workers are placing on being set up to perform their job role to the best of their ability.
Over a quarter (28%) of public sector staff believe current workplace technology is holding them back from being as productive as they possibly can be – while staff can work flexibly with IT, the legacy technology deployed isn’t as user-friendly as required or doesn’t feel simple to use outside of the office. A similar number (26%) of leaders also felt older, outdated workplace technology was to blame, claiming current setups are complicated and don’t offer a ‘consumer-level’ user experience.
IT investment on the rise
More than three in five (64%) leaders claim there is a plan in place to increase the organisation’s productivity – but it is how this plan is delivered that will be key. While there appears to be much to do, IT and HR leaders have confirmed their organisations plan to increase spending on technology to boost productivity – with respondents stating their organisation will spend an average of £6.9m over the next five years to increase productivity, up from £3.5m earmarked pre-lockdown.
This spend pledge works out at around £1.4m per year. An increase in investment will be welcome news to staff. However, to put that figure into context, there are 343 public sector IT deployments worth more than £1m each expiring by the end of 2020 alone, according to Tussell. This includes 42 contracts worth more than £10m.
“With so much uncertainty around the future of work, IT must ensure digital workspaces are providing a user-friendly, efficient and productive employee experience – delivering better value for money for the taxpayer. From making sure the right devices are provided to investing in software that offers secure and seamless experiences, CIOs are now central to the next phase of their organisation’s success,” Fields said.
“While most private sector organisations moved employees home immediately, some public sector staff – including many in the DWP and HMRC – were still forced to go into their workplaces during the pandemic. Given this might have left employees feeling aggrieved, the right investment and support to prioritise the employee experience will be vital in terms of damage control and boosting staff retention in the long-term,” he added.
*research from Citrix