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UK workers keen on workplace tech but feel overlooked
Tue, 6th Feb 2024

The latest data from the Virgin Media O2 Business Future of Work study details surprising attitudes from UK workers towards technology in the workplace. This comprehensive study involved polling 2,000 workers across multiple sectors, revealing a keen interest in emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, and robotics, despite a noted lack of consultation from management on such changes.

Key findings from the study indicate that workers across sectors like construction and manufacturing are eager to see how emerging technologies can benefit their work-life balance and job satisfaction. For instance, 40% of construction and 28% of manufacturing workers hope that these advancements will improve their work-life balance. Furthermore, 25% of construction and 30% of manufacturing employees believe that their job satisfaction will increase as a result of these developments.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that despite excitement around emerging technologies, with over four in ten workers looking forward to the benefits of 5G, AI and robotics in their workplaces, there's significant uncertainty about what the future holds. Indeed, nearly half of construction (48%) and manufacturing (49%) workers do not know what their role will look like in 20 years.

Another documented concern is the pace of technology change in the workplace. Over a quarter of construction (31%) and manufacturing (28%) employees feel this is progressing too rapidly, often feeling ignored in this critical aspect. More than half (55%) of employees in both sectors expressed this sentiment about their senior management's lack of sufficient consultation on technology changes. This highlights the need for increased communication and a transparent explanation of significant shifts. Notably, one in four (26%) construction workers and one-third (33%) of manufacturing employees feel sidelined or excluded from pertinent discussions.

Despite these concerns, the study reveals a significant level of optimism about how technology will shape their roles in the next five years. More than half (56%) of UK builders and a substantial proportion of manufacturing workers believe that enhanced productivity (42%) and a better work-life balance (28%) are on the horizon. Additionally, 35% of workers in the construction sector expressed eagerness for technology to fully automate mundane and repetitive tasks.

The role of connectivity is crucial for enabling access and adoption of emerging technologies. One-third of both construction (36%) and manufacturing (35%) workers identify 5G as important to their daily work, with 21% and 26% respectively seeing the same importance for AI. As these sectors gear up to adopt these innovations, telecoms operators will be key players in providing the crucial connectivity needed to power these industries.

Diego Tedesco, Director of Commercial, Product and Marketing at Virgin Media O2 Business, sees this study as a defining moment for businesses in these sectors. He stated, "As they embrace an increasingly technical landscape, business leaders face challenges. Critical decisions and calculated risks around technology adoption must occur amidst evolving innovations like AI. To achieve the best results, it's paramount to be data-led and seek input from both internal and external perspectives to inform decisions. Construction and manufacturing companies should rely on their partners for insight and support as they transition towards future-proofing their organisations."