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When people talk about lost productivity, they often think of things like disengaged or distracted employees, sick time or even cultural events that lead to lack of focus at the office (such as March Madness, Amazon Prime Day and the 2017 solar eclipse). While those aren’t factors that organizations can realistically control, companies can address productivity that is lost due to technical issues. IT related productivity loss can stem from anything from network downtime to poorly timed routine maintenance to an inability to work outside the office. And all those lost moments come at a cost.
According to Gartner, the average cost of network downtime is $5,600 a minute. Broken down a bit more, a study by IHS Markit found that information and communication technology downtime or degradation costs mid-sized organizations in North America around $1 million annually and large enterprises more than $60 million, totaling about $700 billion every year. Lost productivity accounts for 78% of that cost.
While entire network outages might not be common, it gives you an idea of the financial impact of lost productivity, and smaller issues that halt productivity happen far more often. Managed 24/7 in the UK found that IT issues can lead to about a day’s worth of lost productivity per month.
The average private sector employee in the UK who uses IT systems and reports wasted time at work said they waste an average of nearly 6% of that time due to technology problems, the report found. This equates to losing 27 minutes per day, 2.5 hours per week, or more than one working day per month, the report noted.
The study also found that 32% of people feel IT systems hurt their ability to do a good job and 44% believe IT issues cost the company time and money. The most common issues weren’t complete network failures, but much more mundane issues:
What’s worse is that 34% of employees experiencing an issue felt that they didn’t receive adequate IT support. That’s a lot of lost productivity left unaddressed.
Implementing IT processes and solutions that help minimize tech-related downtime can go a long way in improving employee productivity.
Having reliable backups and a disaster recovery plan is best practice for those instances when something does go wrong and you suffer a network or server outage. Being able to spin additional servers or even individual virtual desktops up from a different data center can ensure employees can keep working despite the initial outage. It’s particularly important for organizations relying on the public cloud for servers or storage to have backups with different providers or in different locations. If one provider experiences an outage your productivity is at the mercy of them identifying and remedying the issue unless you can switch to a backup on another provider’s cloud or in another datacenter.
This approach can also come in handy in case of a ransomware attack. Because all of your data is duplicated and available via different servers you may still have access to all your information without paying the ransom.
Downtime isn’t all about major catastrophes. One of the most frustrating experiences as an end user is sitting around doing nothing while your desktop updates.
Routine maintenance, updates and patching are vital parts of a healthy IT system, but planned downtime and maintenance windows should be scheduled during periods of least disruption to minimize the impact on productivity. Pushing updates overnight or to a virtual desktop Golden Image that pushes the updates to all corresponding desktops at the next log on ensures employees can be productive during normal hours.
Slow systems and equipment was the number one cause of IT related lost productivity according to the Managed 24/7 study. IT teams can get ahead of these issues with proper performance and desktop environment monitoring. Monitoring software allows IT to quickly identify issues and often resolve the problem before an end user even notices the issue. This proactive approach is important to maintaining high performance desktops.
Even with the best maintenance plans in place, users will inevitably encounter a situation where they’re having desktop issues. Oftentimes end users have trouble articulating exactly what’s happening or the issue is hard to replicate – causing frustration for both the end user and the support staff trying to fix the issue.
The same performance monitoring tools can often help teams pinpoint the exactly root cause of an issue, giving IT a much more reliable source of information than an end user’s description of the issue. By having a monitoring system in place, IT can get end users back to full productivity quickly instead of spending hours blindly guessing at the cause of an issue.
As more people work away from the office (i.e. evenings, weekends or during sick days), the ability to work outside of traditional hours and environments is playing an increasingly important role in employee productivity. If workers don’t have access to the data and applications they need when they want to get work done then that creates a lost productivity scenario.
Digital transformation initiatives can help solve this source of lost productivity by adoption solutions like virtual desktops. Desktop virtualization allows end users to securely access their corporate desktops from any device with an internet connection. That means if an employee wants to keep working from their personal computer at home or is unable to make it to the office they can remain productive.
Virtual desktops can also help IT teams meet many of the challenges above by centralizing desktop management, making it easier to push updates during the most opportune times and getting access to system monitoring platforms (if offered by your chosen VDI or DaaS provider).
With the right systems and approaches in place, IT can play a major role in employee productivity.
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