Press releases

Deloitte: Companies can do more to connect manual workers and boost productivity

11 May 2017

Businesses employing large numbers of manual workers are at risk of missing out on opportunities to boost productivity and reduce costs through technology, according to a survey of more than 2000 UK workers by Deloitte.

84% of all workers think it is important for their company to use the latest technology available. However, while 65% of office based professionals are likely to be heavy users of technology, manual (or blue collar) workers are less connected.

Over half (51%) of blue collar workers are light users of technology, including a significant number who don’t use any of the technologies that are under review in their workplace. This is despite the fact that blue collar workers are as connected as white collar workers in their personal lives. 47% of blue collar workers use their smartphone in some way more than five times a day outside of work.

Furthermore, nearly one in three (31%) blue collar workers say their workplace is ‘not at all advanced’ when it comes to adopting and implementing new technologies, compared to 21% of white collar professionals.

James Yearsley, lead services partner at Deloitte, said: “Blue collar, or manual, workers are as connected as white collar office-based workers in their personal lives, but significantly less so at work. This suggests that businesses employing large numbers of blue collar workers are failing to make the most of the opportunities technology presents to increase productivity, improve communication and potentially reduce costs.

“Our report looks at the services sector in particular, which employs 13% of the UK’s working population and relies heavily on its people. The people-focused nature of this industry means it is critical for companies within the sector to understand how digital technology could impact their workforce and transform businesses.

“For example, advances in mobile and cloud technology mean that non-desk based workers can increasingly access information on the go through mobile apps. Facilities managers are increasingly able to manage sites remotely, allowing them to respond more quickly and with more information. In the construction sector, sensor technology could also be attached to key assets like tools or equipment, allowing companies to track exactly where and when they are needed.

“The sector is reaching an inflection point, with technology prices falling fast enough to justify investment. Services companies in sectors which traditionally employ large numbers of blue collar workers should consider how they can use technology in new ways. Those that do not consider how these trends may affect them risk losing competitiveness.”


Notes to editors

The survey compared the views of 2013 UK workers aged 18 and over. The report looks specifically at the services sector, which employs 13% of the UK’s working population, and includes the construction and infrastructure industry, facilities management, business process outsourcing and professional services, including the legal, consultancy and recruitment sectors.

The report refers to blue collar workers, which in this context means construction workers, facilities management staff, including catering and cleaning staff, and maintenance staff. The term can refer to both skilled and unskilled manual work. The report also refers to white collar workers, which we use to mean predominantly staff who work in offices.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

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