15 million UK employees suffer emotionally due to internet failures at work


Business leaders report anger, impatience and worry during periods of internet downtime as employees are unable to do their jobs.


More than 15 million UK workers displayed negative emotional responses - including greater levels of anger, impatience and worry - as a result of internet failures at work last year, according to a study by Beaming, the business ISP.


Beaming’s study, which involved more than 500 UK-based organisations using a range of different internet service providers, indicates that 42% of organisations - the equivalent of 2.4 million companies nationwide - suffered at least one major internet failure that prevented them from trading or accessing vital online services in 2018.


Leaders at three quarters (74%) of businesses that experienced outages told Beaming’s researchers that their employees had exhibited one or more negative emotional responses as a result of downtime, with between a third and half of the workforce affected, on average:


  • Employees displayed greater impatience at a third (32%) of companies suffering internet downtime. More than half (51%) of people at these firms were affected on average.
  • A quarter (24%) of leaders said that internet downtime had made their employees more restless and less able to concentrate. 48% of people were affected on average.
  • A fifth (21%) of leaders said internet downtime made their employees more angry. On average, 44% of people displayed more anger than usual at affected companies last year.
  • 17% of leaders at companies that had experienced internet downtime said that it made staff member more negative, while 14% said employees became more emotional and more likely to overreact to what others say.


Minor positive outcomes from internet downtime


Beaming’s study also revealed that some organisations experienced positive outcomes as a result of staff being unable to use the internet. 13% of leaders at business affected by disruptive internet failures said some employees were visibly more relaxed and actually enjoyed the downtime. A fifth (20%) of leaders said their people spent more time talking to colleagues as a result. 




Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director of Beaming, comments: “Rock solid, reliable internet connectivity is critical for businesses now, the majority of companies simply can’t manage without it. There can be no surprise that many people respond emotionally when the internet fails because it impacts directly on their productivity and ability to do their jobs. ”


“Our research shows that the majority of businesses suffering a disruptive internet failure find large parts of their workforce experience heightened levels of anger, impatience and worry as a result. Downtime damages productivity, it hits morale and harms the working relationships that make organisations successful.


“Communication is crucial for good collaboration, so it is interesting that a fifth of businesses found people actually spent more time talking to each other without the internet. These face-to-face conversations should be happening regularly, not just when people are forced to. 


“Businesses of all sizes deserve internet services that deliver at close to 100% uptime as possible, as well as immediate access to skilled technicians that can address any issues quickly. If your internet service provider doesn’t deliver that as standard, then you should seriously consider moving to a specialist”


Annemie Ress, founder of PurpleBeach, a consultancy focusing on innovation and people, comments: “I've worked with several businesses that are wholly reliant on the internet and the frustration is palpable when people are unable to do their jobs due to problems with technology. Connectivity is such an integral part of who we are now, both at work and at home, that being disconnected can be highly detrimental to productivity and morale. I think we are just starting to wake up to the impact that living and working in a connected world can have on our emotional wellbeing.”


Productivity cost of internet downtime to UK businesses


Working with a mathematician from Imperial College, Beaming has calculated that almost 60 million hours of working time were lost by UK businesses to internet outages in 2018, costing them £742 million in lost productivity and extra overtime. UK businesses experienced two major outages and 16 hours of downtime each, on average, in 2018. 


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