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Npower research reveals how technology rules the modern office

New research released by npower has revealed how technology has changed the working lives of people over the past 60 years.


The average UK worker sends and receives 10,000 emails a year and one in ten spend the whole working day on a computer or mobile phone. That’s according to new research released by npower, which documents how electronic devices have transformed our working lives over the past 60 years.

The study, produced by Warwick Business School to support the ’Remember How We Used To Work’ online archive from npower, which has been created on and maps out the increasing use of office gadgets through the years; from typewriters to telex, computers to smartphones, it shows just how reliant people have become on technology.

The findings reveal that one in five British workers don’t ever put pen to paper at work and a quarter don’t remember life without email. In fact, the average UK worker now sends and receives 40 emails a day, with one in 12 working their mailbox into overdrive with 100 plus daily emails. 57% of those questioned admit to logging into their inbox outside of work hours and 85% of those who do think it makes them more productive. Meanwhile, traditional methods of communication are falling by the wayside, as one in ten workers say they never make phone calls at work and 48% never post a letter.

58% of British workers believe that electronic gadgets such as computers, tablets and mobile phones have made them more industrious in the workplace. However, according to Warwick Business School, while the modern UK office seems unrecognisable from the days when a calculator cost three weeks wages and photo copies were made by hand, the perception that the computer-powered electronic office has made us more productive might not be completely true. In fact, the most recent statistics from ONS suggest productivity has risen by just 2% per year since 1973*.

Will Skillman from Warwick Business School, who produced the report for npower, explained: "Since the 1950s, technology in the workplace has changed dramatically from telephones and typewriters to advanced personal computers, mobile communications equipment and tablet devices. Our study shows that British workers are now hugely reliant on electrical appliances throughout the working day and while on the move and feel this has improved their productivity.

“Yet what isn’t clear is whether this technology-powered workplace is directly helping to improve how we work or if we are just replacing old technologies with new. Certainly the rise of the mobile office means that workers can stay plugged in on the move and for longer periods of time, but whether this has resulted in a more productive workforce remains to be seen.”

Images of the changing workplace through the years are documented on npower’s ’Remember How We Used To Work’ archive which looks back at how energy and technology has transformed the UK over the decades.  

Those wishing to explore the archive and add their own contributions can go to


Notes to Editors:
10,000 email figure based on 252 working days in a year
*According to Craig Lindsay: A century of labour market change: 1900 to 2000, Office for National Statistics, March 2003. Real UK productivity increased in the UK by 3% per year between 1950 and 1973, and by 2% per annum since then.

About npower:
npower is one of the UK’s largest electricity suppliers and has 6.5 million customer accounts across the UK.

npower has been awarded platinum status in Business in the Community’s CR Index and is one of 46 companies to have achieved the CommunityMark since its launch. All CommunityMark achievers have been recognised for demonstrating excellence in their holistic and strategic approach to community investment.

PR Contact:
Sunita Patel
Bridgwater Road
0845 070 2807



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