Productivity gap is a barrier to business efficiency and a more sustainable future

Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the UK’s workplace productivity is historically 30 per cent lower than in other developed countries, such as Germany and America.

Workplace productivity concerns more than just staff motivation and should be looked at holistically from a processes, practices and services point of view. For example, scrutinising supplier relationships, ensuring resources are being utilised regularly and checking that systems and facilities are running efficiently.

Business owners now need to be ruthless about working practices and pinpoint deficiencies to strengthen their future financial positions, Nigel Crunden, business specialist at Office Depot UK, explains.

“The productivity gap is a real problem many are faced with and businesses need to tackle workplace deficiencies head-on. The recession has created a cautious business culture that’s made companies increasingly aware of costs. One of the biggest challenges businesses face is finding a balance between knowing when to invest and being sensible about cost management.

“A motivated workforce is a productive one and companies need to go back to basics and assess how to make staff thrive. This analysis should be all encompassing to consider what environments people perform best in, as well as looking at current processes in place, such as supply management and how to maximise buying power.”

It’s been predicted by the Bank of England that the UK’s economy would be 17% better off today if workplace productivity had continued to rise at the level it was before the economic crash in 2008.

Nigel continued: “Companies can improve efficiencies by conducting an entire audit of the workforce to iron out any problem areas. In soft-skill environments, typical contributors to waste include everything from automatic contract renewals and unnecessary meetings to over reliance on technology.”

But businesses must not overlook how workplace surroundings can positively impact productivity.

Nigel concluded: “The physical workplace itself is often overlooked as an opportunity to improve staff motivation and performance. The workplace of the near future is one that allows employees to collaborate and share ideas but also concentrate on cognitively challenging tasks. For example, easily interchangeable and adjustable desks, where staff can move around but also lock down their workstation to focus on individual tasks and block out noise pollution.”