Is wi-fi boosting productivity within businesses?

Without a doubt, there has been a change within the workplace in the last ten years. Employees and employers can stay connected all day to the internet, without being tied down to the desk at a computer.

The workplace is now flexible, less dictated by timescales and more susceptible to fast changes due to a mix of reliable online networks and a mobile device. Has it affected employee productivity?

We look at how mobile internet connectivity has impacted the workplace and work out just how wi-fi has made the workplace more efficient and productive with help from KBR, business wi-fi providers.

The connection between wi-fi and BYOD culture

BYOD, meaning bring your own device, is a developing trend within the workplace which means employees can bring their own device and use it as part of working practice when using a wi-fi network.

‘The average BYOD user across countries saves 37 minutes per week thanks to using their own device’, suggests a study by the Cisco Interment Business Solutions Group. Users in the United States saved 81 minutes per week in total, meanwhile users in Germany save four minutes per week.

While some countries are saving more time, and being more productive than others, what this suggests is that globally, wi-fi networks combined with a BYOD culture is leading to an accrued saving of time, as opposed to wasted time inside and outside of the working day.

There are many instances, when used correctly, where BYOD and a mobile internet connection will boost productivity, as employees can attend to tasks in ways they never could before because of constantly being connected the internet.

For example, workers can respond to emails on their way to a meeting or outside of the office. They can also spend time working on tasks during dead-time in a working day when they are not at a computer.

It is suggested that with a BYOD culture, the connected employee is working an average of two extra hours every single day and emailing 20 more emails a day. This is an impressive addition to productivity within the working week outside of designated working hours, suggested to be because employees feel more comfortable using their own devices.

However, businesses must spend more money on measuring security, which includes making sure businesses and employees are safe from hacks into wi-fi servers, plus anti-malware and encryption methods. This means that an increase in productivity does come at a cost.

Transferring priorities in the workplace

The main discussion within many businesses is whether increased wi-fi connectivity will contribute to an increase in distractions when employees are using their own devices. Of course, the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as employers would like it to be.

Employers are now more connected, so they will spend more of the working day checking their personal devices for social networking updates. However, this works both ways. An employer wants an employee to attend work for the majority of the working day; if something goes wrong in the personal life of an employee they would be able to handle the situation within the office using their mobile devices - meaning that work can still be done and a worker doesn’t have to leave the office to deal with the situation.

Wi-fi around the world

Based on a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit surveying 1,865 employees, those who were connected to the internet on a mobile device contributed to a 16% boost in productivity for that business, and a 18% boost in the creativity of employees when at work.

Disengaged employees account for a cost of $3,400 for every $10,000 USD worth of salary in the United States. That means for every starting salary of £16,376 in the UK, this can cost an employer £5,569 worth of disengagement. As research suggests, what makes employees more engaged is a mobile device and a reliable wi-fi connection.

Based on a 40-hour working week, this means that one employee contributing a 16% productivity boost accounts for 6.4 hours per week, which accounts for 41 working days a year.

Productivity can be further boosted if more than one employee can become motivated by mobile technologies. As well as productivity, it was established that job satisfaction increased by 23%, and loyalty to the company increased by 21%. This is probably down to the fact that employees can feel empowered when using their own smart-device, therefore, workers are made to feel that they are trusted to work on their own tasks independently throughout the day.

It is clear that any business employing both a BYOD and interconnected wi-fi policy in the workplace are the ones who will succeed when it comes to an increased level of productivity.

Trusting employees with their own devices being connected to a trusted wi-fi network is the best option for employers looking to squeeze the most value out of the people they employ.