Data glut is hitting UK productivity, say workers

UK workers believe poor communication between staff and a glut of electronic information is making them less efficient than their...

UK workers believe poor communication between staff and a glut of electronic information is making them less efficient than their counterparts in the rest of Europe, a study of the working practices of 38,000 employees in 200 countries has found.

The 2,200 UK workers questioned in the study said a "lack of team communication" (37%) and "ineffective meetings" (35%) were the biggest time wasters. Sixty-three per cent of respondents reported that the inability to find electronic documents quickly when needed affected their productivity.

The study, conducted by Microsoft, asked employees how they organised their time and workload and what factors helped or hindered their productivity.

Carsten Sorensen, senior lecturer in information systems at the London School of Economics, said a weakness in UK management culture was another factor harming productivity. The hierarchical "command and control" culture erodes trust between managers and workers hindering collaboration, he said.

"We cannot assume as white collar workers that we have complete freedom. However, bosses cannot manage as they have before by command and control - there is simply too much information in a modern technology-driven service economy. Access to information, be it in an electronic document, a colleague's head or held collectively by a team, is the key to success of the new economy."

Nicola Casey, information worker lead at Microsoft, said, "Our productivity is increasingly shaped by our ability to communicate and collaborate with our colleagues and less by our ability to process tasks alone.

"The growing volume of information that workers are now expected to manage requires far greater integration than ever before. These combined changes present both a management challenge and an infrastructure challenge for all British businesses."

Businesses need to employ a management strategy that allows employees to create teams quickly, Casey said. They should also have an IT infrastructure that supports effective information sharing, she added.

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