Tuesday 13 August 2019 5:49 am

Computer says no: Workers waste millions of hours a year because of mediocre technology

Emma de Sousa is managing director at Insight UK.

We have all been there. Waiting impatiently at the start of a meeting for documents and conferencing applications to load; the frustration when your device crashes after working two hours on a document that didn’t auto-save; or having to travel hours to a meeting because it’s just not possible to do it remotely. 

These are not unusual circumstances. In fact, these challenges are experienced by office workers every day.

Recent research from Insight conducted across the UK highlights that office workers have 1.8bn working hours of their time wasted every year because the technology that they’re given is not good enough. 

In 2019, employees should not be complaining that IT makes their lives harder. Surely the digital age means businesses are leading with the latest technology? 

The truth is quite the opposite. With the average worker wasting 2.4 hours every week due to slow, overcomplicated or unsuitable technology, it’s a recipe for a very unproductive workforce. In fact, the time office workers lose every week adds up to the equivalent of 14 days, per worker, per year.

Employees are also being inundated with irrelevant information, resulting in disengagement with their employers and colleagues. 

Overall, office workers are missing information four times a week, and more than a third of them overlook important or useful information at least once a day – meaning that they need to work harder just to keep pace with communication. 

Employees who suffer information overload will simply switch off – it’s no surprise that 60 per cent of office workers ignore internal information until it’s brought to their attention.

As a consumer, you have access to a huge range of technology and devices, where the information you receive is tailored to your preferences. Businesses should take the same approach.

Technology in the workplace that cannot help streamline communication and support a healthy work-life balance is clearly not fit for purpose.

One simple reason for technology frustrations is that employees often aren’t given the training they need. A staggering 77 per cent of office workers have been given technology and applications at some point without being told how to use them. So while employers may be making the technology investments their users need, they’re falling at the final hurdle. 

Left unchecked, frustrated employees may begin to look elsewhere, with 48 per cent of office workers saying that they would look for better technology in their next job.

The world is changing; for many “work” is no longer a specific place, but something you do. People want to work when and where they want. Beyond this, technology at work should mirror what we use at home. 

If businesses don’t prioritise meeting their employees’ expectations, all parties will suffer, from workers who are increasingly frustrated with their employer, to low productivity levels hindering business success. 

Without the right technology, tools and training in place, organisations will eventually struggle to attract and retain employees. After all, who wants to work in today’s world using yesterday’s technology?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.