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Rapidly changing hybrid workforce sees IT departments struggle to keep up

Research finds faulty technology is leaving businesses ill-equipped to support the future of working, warning that tech-savvy workers will expect more from their employers

Remote workers have had to cope with serious technical issues while working from home since the Covid-19 outbreak began, according to research from Apogee Corporation.

The study of more than 2,000 office workers from the managed workplace services provider revealed doubts about the current readiness of technology to support the flexible workspaces of the future. Almost half (45%) of UK employees said they were left frustrated with laptops and hardware not functioning properly while working from home during the pandemic, and more than one-third (35%) of workers experienced difficulties while transitioning from work to home to hybrid because of technological problems.

These problems mainly related to connectivity. Poor internet connection/signal and loss of internet connection were named as the main sources of issues while working at home, cited by 38.96% and 37.78%, respectively. These were followed by laptop crashing (25.92%) and hardware not working properly (18.77%).

In terms of time lost by such problems, 19.32% of respondents said they had lost 1.5-two hours because of computer downtime in an average week while working at home, 17.67% said they lost between 30 and 60 minutes, and 13.2% lost 2.5-3 hours. Interestingly, 14.77% lost less time than normal and 9.43% never lost time due to computer downtime while working at home.

Nearly one-fifth of respondents (19%) did not know who to ask about IT issues, while 14% found their IT department unreliable while working from home. As hybrid working rapidly emerges as the working model of the future, such reports of inconsistent support at home compated with in the office will be of particular concern to businesses. When asked how their company’s IT solutions could improve, a quarter of respondents wanted a more responsive IT team, and a similar percentage expressed a wish for better facilities and more advanced hardware.

Age demographic differences also presented themselves. Apogee found that 87% of employees aged 16-24 would make changes to their company’s IT – far more than the over-55 age group, of whom only 46% expressed a desire for change. The survey noted that the younger generation’s wish for quicker updates to software and improved sustainability highlighted the need for organisations to make changes today to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce.

The study also revealed the costly impact of workplace IT problems and the resulting downtime. During the pandemic, UK workers lost an average of 85 hours to faulty technology and a lack of IT support while working from home. Apogee estimated that this loss of worktime cost UK businesses £115m each week.

“Workplace technology must be built to adapt to the changing working environment, yet our study shows that many companies don’t have the necessary solutions or teams in place to meet employee demands,” said Apogee CEO Aurelio Maruggi. “A new generation of tech-savvy workers will expect more from their employers, and businesses must be ready to deliver these changes.

“Businesses cannot afford to keep losing money with downtime and poor solutions. As hybrid working models continue to define the future of work, organisations should outsource their workplace service supplier to ensure the coming months and years are productive and profitable.”

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