How IT problems cause more than just a business headache

By Jon Cairns, below, VP of Technical Services, Nexthink

IT disruption and problems are not uncommon across businesses. Every day, thousands of employees find themselves hampered, hamstrung, and frustrated by technology holding them back, limiting productivity, and making their general working life a challenge. However, just how much of an impact does this have on their daily routine, and what can businesses do to improve this?

Recent research found that 93% of respondents said technology gets in the way of their productivity, causing them to spend more time on tasks. If it was to be upscaled to the global workforce, that would be more than three billion employees worldwide who are finding their workflow disrupted by bad IT.

Workflow? What Workflow
One of the biggest issues with bad IT is the disruption to good workflow. As employees, we’ve all been in that situation before:

You’re set up for that big task you’ve been dreading. Finally, you’re in the right headspace for it to be completed, and you’ve begun. Five minutes in and you’re having to stop because of IT issues, and just like that your workflow is ruined. All the motivation and drive for your arduous task has now dissipated into a mixture of frustration, confusion, and distraction.

Research shows that an employee suffers on average around 100 IT/technology interruptions a year and with each interruption lasting about 28 minutes, this adds up to almost 50 hours of lost productivity per employee per year. However, employees are only reporting just over half of all incidents meaning the real productivity drain could be almost twice as bad as estimated. Adding to the issue, it can take workers nearly 25 minutes to refocus their attention after a single distraction.

When issues do go wrong, staff have a tendency to try to either attempt to fix the issue themselves or find a workaround only to suffer in silence. For many IT problems, they’re usually fixed far faster by an expert. Staff members are spending their time researching and then implementing a solution, which is hardly using their time effectively – time which could be better spent somewhere on the business’ spectrum. Similarly, by suffering in silence, this leads to processes taking longer than usual due to unresolved IT issues. Again, this continues to negatively affect staff productivity.

IT Teams Are Fighting a Losing Battle

The war on IT issues is an ever-changing, ever shifting, and ever-present issue. Think of trying to solve a problem, but every time you do it spawns another elsewhere, shifting the goalposts once again.

Moreover, IT teams must also battle for the hearts and minds of their staff. The challenge for them is combatting frustration. Even the shortest delays cause a great deal of frustration, usually due to the stifled workflow or inability to complete a task. For example, if it took an agent on the IT team 10 minutes to respond to a ticket lodged by an employee, that’s still quite a quick turnaround from their perspective. However, from the staff member’s position, that’s ten minutes out of their day where they’ve been stopped from doing anything productive, with no solution in sight. As expected, often a frosty tension is inevitable when the IT team arrive to troubleshoot the issue.

It’s well understood that staff are reluctant to contact IT teams, whether that be out of fear that the issue could be of their own making, or a concern that’s a non-issue in the first place. In fact, recent research found that the top four reasons for not contacting the IT helpdesk were:

  • Fear of a lengthy support process
  • Didn’t know if their tech issue was just them, or if it might be their fault
  • Felt the issue was too minor to flag, despite the frustration they felt around it
  • They thought IT couldn’t help

Ultimately, not only are IT teams battling against internal frustrations, but also against staff members who haven’t even flagged the problem in the first place.

One solution which is becoming increasingly popular across businesses is the use of automation, and automatic troubleshooting. Automation of IT issues can flag issues to IT teams before they become a problem, removing two key delaying factors: the reluctance to report, and the delay in reporting.

Good IT Equals Good Culture

The influence good IT can have on a company’s culture cannot be understated. Having a solid technology base in your business, plus a support network that enhances rather than hinders productivity, will be a big part of fostering a strong culture. In a modern world where staff retention is proving to be a challenge, businesses need to be doing everything they can to dissuade turnover, and a better technology stack is a key area that needs to be addressed.

Further to reducing recidivism, having a better IT culture will bolster an organisation’s reputation amongst its employees. Thereby helping to attract new skills and talent both internally and externally.

Overall, far more hinges in a business on having good IT practices than just operational technology. Poor IT practices can have cataclysmic consequences right from the very top to bottom of a business, influencing wider arms such as company culture and staff retention. Businesses need to pay heed to their operational policies when it comes to IT, or risk suffering the consequences further down the line.