Anthony Lamoureux, CEO of Velocity Smart Technology, the smart locker provider
The UK has been in the grip of a productivity crisis for decades. Between 2009 and 2019 the UK’s work output per worker per hour grew at the second slowest rate compared to other G7 countries. One of the biggest factors in this productivity problem is time lost due to technology failures, which is estimated to cost UK companies around £35bn per year.
In productivity terms, IT failures cost workers around 545 hours of lost productivity every year and more than half of workers (56%) report regularly waiting up to three hours to resolve IT issues in the last few years due to remote working.
Much has been made in the last year about the role remote working will play in the future of work as more employees favour this more flexible approach to work. But one of the key challenges of successfully implementing remote working (or at least some form of hybrid working) is whether the IT infrastructure within companies will be able to support such a move in the long term.
We’re seeing more companies come out in favour of remote working but without taking the time to consider what this means for IT investment, particularly when it comes to remote support. Businesses must take a considered approach to what remote working means not just for their employees but what it means for IT teams and ensuring issues or malfunctions in software or hardware don’t cause a worsening of the UK’s obvious productivity problem.
Understanding the challenges of IT downtime
According to research by Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime around the world is about $5,600 per minute - take that in that figure. Losses from downtime come in many forms.
First, you’ve essentially got the wasted wages you’re paying your employees during times when they can’t work due to an IT failure and can’t resume work until it’s resolved. You’ve also got the costs involved in general IT support to resolve issues and additional expenses if a resolution consists of some kind of disaster recovery.
You could also take into account lost revenue - which is a particular problem for any business with an Ecommerce element if IT failures compromise their website. It can be difficult to calculate the revenue losses you experience directly from IT downtime, but it is possible to get a rough estimate.
Simply take your gross revenue, and divide that by the total number of hours your employees work per year. Once you have that, multiply it by the hours lost in productivity (you can use a percentage of the total time if it’s easier), and then you have an idea of lost revenue due to downtime.
With employees unable to work at full capacity while IT issues are resolved, you always have the risks that lost productivity brings from downtime. This can worsen when the lost productivity leads to delays further down the line.
IT downtime doesn’t just impact the business. It has a huge impact on employees. As well as the frustration experienced during downtime, there’s also the added stress that comes with making up time lost once an IT issue is resolved.
Any downtime can lead to bigger problems for a business and create challenges down the supply chain. If IT failures hold back the manufacturing process, for example, delays lead to loss of products and could lead to orders being missed, which then has a bigger impact on the bottom line.
What’s the solution to the IT-driven productivity problem?
While IT downtime is a major problem for UK businesses, these problems aren’t insurmountable, and there are things you can do to improve the situation. These can be more challenging if you use a remote first model, but they will help.
Adopt the cloud
Moving to the cloud has been a central theme in ‘digital transformation projects for years, but for remote IT support, it’s essential.
By moving everything onto the cloud, you can at least make remote tech support more feasible, as IT workers don’t have to be onsite to access systems and hardware to resolve problems.
Consider managed services for your mobile hardware & software
With more employees reliant on mobile devices to work remotely, it could be a good idea to use a managed service to ensure all hardware, software and applications are approved by the business before deployment. This can stop the problem of employees creating their own siloed tech system, which is difficult to fix if things go wrong.
Improve IT support processes
Raising tickets and getting issues resolved has always been tricky. Still, you now need to invest in customer service software that makes it easier for employees to raise IT issues remotely. Investing in a better support or ticketing system can help empower IT teams to take control of the resolution process and improve their service.
Invest in new technology like Smart Lockers
Perhaps the biggest problem with ‘traditional’ IT support is that the employee is out of action once their hardware or software goes down and can’t continue working until the issue is resolved. This is even trickier to resolve in remote working models when IT support can’t simply come to the office to fix a problem or provide a new laptop.
Smart Lockers can stop this problem by making it easier for employees to access new equipment so they can continue working while their IT problem is resolved. For example, you could use a Smart Locker to store replacement laptops or other mobile devices in a convenient location for employees - like a shared office space.
Suppose an employee has an IT issue that can’t be resolved immediately. In that case, they could go to a Smart Locker to pick up a replacement device (which has already been cloned with their information and data) and drop the broken device in the same locker.
The Smart Lockers can be coded with a personal ID number so you have a transparent record of the time a device has been picked up or left, so you can always track where equipment is and who has it. Smart Lockers can also save a significant amount of money for business and IT departments.
More than half of delivery costs are thought to be from ‘the last mile' and handing over the item to a customer or employee. Smart Lockers reduce this because if multiple pieces of equipment need to be delivered, they can simply be left in the same locker.
Investing in better support and technology to reduce downtime
Loss of productivity is a billion-pound problem for the UK economy. As businesses continue to adapt to new environments and expectations, finding ways to reduce losses from productivity is essential.
Whether shifting processes and systems to the cloud, investing in more and better IT support or bringing in new solutions like Smart Lockers, the resources are available for businesses to succeed in the future and bring productivity down.
The consequences of not doing so could be catastrophic in the long run.