Tech Troubles: The true cost of outdated workplace tech

In a day and age where modern technology is capable of performing tasks at lightning speed, slow software or hardware can be frustrating to say the least. But, could the implications of slow tech be far more damaging to businesses than we realise?

We completed a study on the state of business tech in the UK, asking workers across the nation about their day-to-day experiences with tech and how it affects their jobs. Technology evangelist and ‘anti-futurist’, Theo Priestley shared his expert insights on the role of technology in the workplace.

The cost of outdated tech

In business, time is one of the most valuable currencies a company has. So, when precious minutes or hours are lost to unforeseen delays – perhaps at the hands of an old computer refusing to start up – that’s also money lost. To put this into perspective, according to our research, Brits lose an average of 46 minutes a day because of slow technology, which equates to a whopping 24 days of work time a year and approximately £2,752 (based on the average UK salary). Sure, you might be thinking, “I could spend that time on a leisurely voyage around the Med!”. But if we’re talking strictly professional, that could translate to an entire client project, several new business wins or the publication of a monthly magazine, for example.

Sound like a lot of time to be lost simply to tech delays? At a closer look, the tasks that suffer the longest hold ups are opening software and programmes (20 minutes a day), opening and saving documents (16.5 minutes a day) and sending emails (16.5 minutes a day). When broken down like this, the figure starts to seem more realistic, right?

The value of up-to-date tech goes beyond just improved efficiency through automation. Deployed in the right way, the right technology can encourage the workforce to be more productive, improving morale and connecting employees and disparate departments that would normally operate in silos.

The productivity factor

Beyond the financial implications of tech trouble, is the impact it can have on the people. We all know that there’s nothing more frustrating than the computer freezing mid-task. Or, even worse, the whole system crashing and losing your precious work that you’ve been slaving over for hours.

With this considered, there’s no surprise that outdated technology can be detrimental to employee productivity and morale. Of those surveyed, just shy of half admitted that slow technology hinders their productivity and 1 in 5 claims it makes them lose focus.  And this frustration doesn’t end at 5pm. According to our findings, employees feel the pressure to carry their workload into their free time, with over a quarter (28%) of Brits regularly working overtime to make up for the time they lost throughout the day due to tech setbacks

While this invasion of personal time is an unfortunate side-effect of outdated workplace technology, what’s most shocking is that 1 in 10 would go as far as to say that it makes them want to leave their job.

Talking of this issue, Priestley says “employee retention could be dented, because employees simply want to work for an organisation that has invested in technology to support them, not hinder them. I believe this is as much a part of the hiring process that candidates should enquire about as it is about finding out about the culture.”

Employees can feel frustrated when they work in an environment that hinders their ability to complete their work on time. People like to feel empowered in their roles, with the right tools that help them achieve their goals and add value to the organisation.

The regional tech-gap

Which city is triumphing in the tech department and who’s a bit slow on the uptake? While outdated technology is an issue being faced across the UK, some regions are suffering more than others.

Our research revealed that while Norwich is reportedly the best equipped with technology to work from home, it’s also the most inefficient city – losing the most time each day to tech delays (57 minutes). Liverpool (51 minutes) and Manchester (50 minutes) don’t fall far behind. On the flip side, Sheffield is the most efficient city, losing just 37 minutes a day on average.

Furthermore, Londoners are the most likely to work extra hours to counteract tech delays, whereas Southampton residents are the most likely to quit their job over their tech problems. Meanwhile, the people on Nottingham can live smugly knowing they experience the least tech troubles across the nation.

The rise of remote working

“With the development of new technologies, the ability to work more flexibly is one of the biggest opportunities available. This is clearly up to the organisation to take advantage of this and offer it to the workforce,” says Priestley.

And this flexible approach is something that more and more businesses are offering their staff with the rise of remote working in the UK. Not only can it offer employees a better work-life balance, but there are lots of benefits to be reaped by businesses, too – including improved productivity, employee retention and lower overhead costs.

But as the trend grows, employees are relying on technology more than ever to maintain communication and get work done beyond the workplace. This means businesses have a responsibility to ensure they’re empowering their staff with the tools they need to get the job done. But, while 69% of Brits have the option to work from home, 12% say their equipment is unreliable and a further 11% claims that while they have the relevant gadgets to work from home, no one has shown them how to use them.

Current advances in technology will lead us to work more collaboratively and remotely. What employees must demand of their organisations is the ability to invest and use these technologies to work more flexibly.