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Bosses ?have Victorian attitude to workforce?

Cover of  by Dave Coplin

British businesses are being held back because of their ?Victorian? attitudes to their employees and refusal to embrace new technology, according to a leading industry analyst.

Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft UK, this week publishes a book that calls for a complete revolution in workplace practices. Called Business Reimagined ? Why Work Isn?t Working, the book attacks open-plan offices, says email can reduce efficiency and challenges bosses to abandon traditional management structures in favour of giving employees more power.

He believes many more people should be given the opportunity to work from home and says nine to five working days and set holidays should become a thing of the past. Mr Coplin wrote the book in his role as a ?blue-sky thinker? for Microsoft.

He cites research that shows that more than 70 per cent of workers do not feel engaged with their jobs.

He said: ?The problem is that we still have this Victorian attitude to work ? people get paid for the hours they do rather than the outcome of what they do.? Mr Coplin said that while technology has transformed the world in recent decades, the majority of people are still stuck in the same kind of ?command and control? hierarchies that dominated medieval labourers.

He attacked rigid company policies that dictate everything from dress codes to when people take lunchbreaks, as well as a culture of multiple meetings and a focus on employees multi-tasking ? he said research shows that people are 30 per less efficient when they are multi-tasking rather than concentrating on one job at a time. He added: ?Studies show that people get more done and feel more productive when they work remotely, out of the office, but it needs a change in thinking for both employers and employees.?

Mr Coplin says that open-plan offices have created an atmosphere of ?antelopes on the savannah? where workers feel exposed.

He cites the advertising agency Grey London as a trend-setter because it has abandoned traditional management structures.

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