UK workers denied productivity gains by poor mobile connectivity inside buildings

CommScope research reveals half of workers still forced to step out of the building to make calls or access data on their mobile devices

Workplaces are changing, as new generations join the workforce with different hopes and expectations regarding how technology will enable their productivity. However, new research has revealed that poor workplace mobile connectivity still affects work efficiency today, with the productivity of around one in four (23 per cent) UK office workers being hindered at least once a week.

The poll – conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by global telecommunications provider CommScope – quizzed 2,000 UK office workers as to the relationship between mobile connectivity and their productivity when at work.

The role for reliable and speedy cellular coverage in enabling productivity was clear – with three quarters (77 per cent) of respondents considering it ‘important’ for being able to complete tasks, such as making phone calls and using data to stay up-to-date with current developments.

Despite its importance in enabling workers to perform their roles efficiently, nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) admitted having to step out of the building to make a phone call or access 4G data services on their mobile device due to a lack of mobile coverage indoors.

There are also significant geographical variations across the UK in terms of the quality of indoor wireless coverage. Workers in London (42 per cent), Yorkshire (42 per cent) and the West Midlands (42 per cent) all claim to enjoy the most reliable 4G, voice and data services, while those in the North-East (seven per cent) appear to suffer the most unreliable service, while Wales (seven per cent) claims the most incidences of no signal at all.

“Workplaces are transforming – from flexible working to a growing culture of hot-desking and shared office-space – and there is a clear requirement for the provision of cellular coverage to underpin productivity at work,” said Phil Sorsky, senior vice president of Service Providers International, CommScope.

Critical role of cellular connectivity

Despite the widespread availability of Wi-Fi, more than three quarters of office workers (77 per cent) see the ability to make phone calls and access 4G data services from their mobile device at work as important.

Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents also claimed that a poor workplace mobile connection has, at some point, affected their work efficiency.

It’s not just efficiency this issue influences. Workers also acknowledged the role played by strong mobile connectivity in attracting skilled prospective employees, with nearly two thirds (64 per cent) agreeing this was the case for them, with only one in five (20 per cent) disagreeing.

Demand for OTT services across mobile networks is clear, with around one in three (29 per cent) workers admitting to using 4G connections to watch videos, download smartphone apps or use social media every day. A quarter (27 per cent) added they do this at least once a week.

Sorsky added: “Achieving the goal of reliable indoor mobile coverage is a significant challenge for operators, especially when businesses are based in large and complex buildings. There is also an ongoing debate around whose responsibility it is to cater for the end-users; with mobile operators, building owners and facilities administrators all playing a role.

“We believe that establishing a dialogue and collaborative culture between these parties is essential – as businesses will look elsewhere if they can’t get access to first class facilities, with wireless coverage, capacity and speed assured to enable productivity across their organisations.”

Catering to profound workplace innovation

“Our financial services clients are putting significant emphasis on customer experience and workforce productivity,” said Matt Salter, director at Redstone. “Employees want to work for organisations that not only consider themselves forward thinking but who are investing in workplace innovation. For businesses with a high volume of customers visiting their offices, the provision of mobile connectivity should be a baseline requirement.”

“Landlords are starting to fully understand the impact they have on their tenants’ connectivity capabilities both for wired and wireless voice and internet provision. Whilst we are impressed by the growing number of buildings that are integrating in-building mobile solutions into their designs, the rate of uptake of these solutions needs to continue to increase to meet the ever increasing tenant requirement to be always connected,” said Sanjaya Ranasinghe, technical director, WiredScore. “There is a growing need for more devices to be connected via mobile networks. This is not only to accommodate the growing number of connected devices we each carry on us every day – alongside the increased density of people within cities and buildings – but also to enable IoT systems integration and other machine-to-machine communications. Creating a network that can meet the capacity and latency needs, as well as the bandwidth and coverage headline, requirements is a huge challenge for the network operators. However, it is key that the property sector works in line to ensure the delivery of the seamless wireless user experience businesses will come to expect.”

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