ALMOST a third of the UK working population – 10.4 million people – could be using smartphones to be more productive at work, according to new research from Deloitte.

The study – Mobile Readiness for Work, based on survey responses from 3369 workers – found that of the 32.3 million people in work in the UK, the majority (51%) spend some time away from a fixed location for their role.

Of these, only 37% currently use a smartphone or tablet for work purposes, with the remainder either using a PC, other handheld electronic devices or no technology at all.

This means that there are 10.4m employees who do not spend all of their time at a fixed location but who also do not use a mobile device.

“For any role that requires movement, mobile technology should be essential,” said Dan Adams, head of telecommunications at Deloitte.

“There is a clear opportunity to narrow the productivity gap through improving the technology that is issued to employees.

He added: “Many consumer processes, from payments to travel to consulting doctors, have been re-designed for a mobile screen and the same revolution can now benefit the UK’s businesses.

“UK workers can unshackle themselves from their desks and leave their bulky laptops behind.

Deloitte’s research also found that smartphones and tablets are used by 40% of the UK working population – the equivalent of almost 13m people – while the majority of UK employees continue to use a laptop or desktop computer at work (62%).

Overall, laptops were the most common device for work purposes, used by 37% of respondents, narrowly followed by desktop computers (36%) and smartphones (34%). Tablets, which were the fourth most popular device, were used by a significantly lower proportion, at 14%.

Paul Lee, partner and head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte, said: “For consumers, smartphones have become integral to many aspects of their daily lives, but this revolution has yet to happen in the workplace.

“Businesses should make core processes accessible via mobile devices. In many cases this may require the creation of a brand new app: the existing PC based application cannot be simply dragged and dropped into a smaller space.

He added: “As technology becomes more sophisticated and apps become more available, employers will respond by deploying mobile more widely.”

The analysis also identified the typical tasks that are carried out by the UK workforce. Tasks including time sheet management, job allocation, communication with clients and colleagues and accessing information can all be carried out using a smartphone instead of a desktop computer or laptop.

Despite this, Deloitte’s research found that of those who don’t use a smartphone or tablet to carry out a task, 42% of respondents said they believe the screen to be too small – this will often be because applications have not been redesigned to work well within a smartphone or tablet screen.