According to a new survey by software group CA, around 60% of UK office workers regularly get ‘frustrated or angry’ because of the failings of their web-based applications – more than any other major European country. Indeed, expectations are now so high that 70% hold it against an employer if its technology is unreliable, and 36% claim they’d actually consider quitting their jobs as a result. Now you might think this is ridiculous at a time when unemployment is rising at a record rate. But when we think back to how we felt the last time our internet crashed, if anything we’re slightly surprised these figures aren’t higher...
CA has been talking to an (admittedly small) sample of 200-odd British workers, as part of a European-wide study on the impact of ‘web stress’ – the frustration caused by slow or unresponsive sites and applications. And it found that Brits get even more wound up about it than our European counterparts – take the happy-go-lucky Italians, for example, only 41% of whom claim to get stressed about it. What’s more, we’re also far more pessimistic about the chances of problems occurring: 77% claimed to be resigned to the prospect, which is also much higher than elsewhere in Europe. Maybe our continental chums have more trust in their IT departments than we do? (though it could be worse - we could be Chinese internet addicts)
The first point to note here is how central internet-based applications have become to so many jobs. Nearly 98% of respondents described them as critical to their daily routine, while 83% reckon they have no choice but to use them even if they’re not working properly, presumably since the only alternative would be to sit around twiddling their thumbs. That’s not great in productivity terms, and it also explains why it’s so frustrating when these applications do fall over without notice.
But it’s also about expectations: over 40% of us will give an application no more than 20 seconds to work before closing it down, while almost half expect any problems to be fixed within the hour. So when this doesn’t happen, it winds us up. And then there’s the lack of control. Since most of us can’t really do anything to solve the problem, other than moan at the IT department, there’s a feeling of powerlessness that further adds to stress levels. So although we don't believe for a minute the 36% who claim they'd quit a job over a dodgy internet connection, we can see where they're coming from....
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