Researchers have claimed that modern technology has made workers almost five times more tired productive than they were in the '70s.
A business report painted this as entirely good news, hailing the fact that workers are now chained to their smartphones or fondleslabs and can work around the clock.
In a paper called the "Individual Productivity Report", analysts from the O2 Business and the Centre for Economic and Business Research claimed there had been a 480 per cent rise in "ICT-related labour productivity" between 1972 and 2012, compared to a relatively meagre growth of 84 per cent for overall labour productivity.
Tech-driven productivity will go up even further, the report continued, driven by high speed mobile internet access and tablet computers, allowing wage slaves to put nose to grindstone wherever they happen to be.
The researchers predicted that tech-related productivity would soar by 22 per cent between 2012 and 2020, or 2.5 per cent a year.
They worked out productivity by using GVA, or gross-value added, a measure of the value of goods and services produced by a firm, industry or nation, and then assessed each worker's contribution to this figure.
Ben Dowd, O2 business director, said: “The findings from our report show how the increasing use and investment in technology by UK businesses has allowed us to work smarter, and as a result we are more productive. For example, employees can now work anywhere they need to. This flexibility enables us to get more done during the working day than ever before, so businesses can focus on maintaining growth.
“Our research confirms my prediction that as digital Britain advances we will continue to see employees’ productivity improve, and as more businesses adopt technology that enables them to be flexible we’re likely to see even greater growth than forecast in the future."
However, Dowd wouldn't want to scare lazy Brits into thinking they're actually working harder. "Indeed, a lot of the new technologies that are driving productivity today are actually those that are contributing to an improved work-life balance and loyal workforce by allowing us to work more remotely and flexibly,” he continued.
The world of work has changed enormously since the '70s. Nowadays, 43 per cent of Britain's economy is fuelled by office work, compared to 24 per cent in 1972, the report claimed.
In 1980 a gigabyte of hard disk space cost £120,000 in today’s money, compared to about 5p now. As computers rolled out across the world, so too did software like Microsoft Office and Google Search, allowing people to work at much faster speeds.
Richard Donkin, author of The History of Work, pointed out that modern technology has allowed skinflint bosses to employ fewer staff.
He said: “Many office workers will be surprised to find they are more productive today than they used to be. You don’t feel productive when chatting around the water cooler with colleagues or when nipping out to the shops on an errand. But you may field two or three calls on your mobile phone during the errand; you might deal with half a dozen emails on your way in to work. The difference today is that we live in an 'always on' society where lines between work and leisure have become blurred by communications technology."
The productivity gains have resulted in fewer employees, who are all expected to do more, the former FT columnist continued, meaning there is simply less time to slack off.
"Employers have been able to condense work-flows among fewer workers. The result is fewer secretaries taking diction, for example, and more managers dealing with their own administration in emails and exchanging documents online.
“In the past office workers would have experienced more downtime dealing with the ebb and flow of work, working hectically at peak times, while relaxing when the pressure was off. The peaks and troughs still exist, but modern communications technologies allow more even flows and fragmentation of some tasks in to more digestible chunks.”
However, if you're reading this at work, don't let the scary survey put you off clicking on a few more of our articles. ®