Nearly 40% of hybrid workers are wasting time due to tech issues

Access to technology that's updated and working from a home office is essential to workers' happiness and effectiveness, according to a survey from Office Depot.

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Most of us know how frustrating it can be when the office printer malfunctions or a slow internet connection interrupts the work we were just in the middle of doing. As the population of remote and hybrid workers becomes a dominating force in the workplace, these workplace tech issues have not disappeared—rather, they have moved from the office to the home. Where, for many, the tech support may not be quite as available.

To learn more about the way tech affects working from home, Office Depot surveyed more than 1,000 American workers, from ages 19 to 84, found via Amazon Mechanical Turk. Remote workers made up the largest contingent (44%), followed by hybrid workers (37%) and 19% of on-site workers. Respondents weighed in on how they handle their tech needs at home—what kind of tech they require for the job, whether their employer pays for it, what kinds of tech-related problems they face, and how their habits around tech and work affect their effectiveness and well-being. Almost all of the respondents (96%) said that their work was dependent on technology in some form.

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Over a third of respondents (38%) reported that tech expenses were not reimbursed by their employers. They indicated that they primarily performed work via laptops, desktops and smartphones, and these devices were mostly purchased by their employers. But most employers did not pick up the tab when it came to work done on smartphones, tablets, headphones, and e-readers.

Internet speed is a critical issue, as connectivity is responsible for so many daily tasks, from emailing to downloading to sharing files to Zoom meetings. Still, more than 1 in 4 workers said that they personally had to boost their internet speeds, at their own cost. 

The survey also broke down costs depending on the kind of work being done. Here is the average costs, per industry:

  • Information services $495
  • Other businesses $461
  • Professional services $393
  • Education $389
  • Health $378

Troubleshooting tech is often easier done at an office, and as employees have been grappling with home office tech -- which, like all tech, requires upgrades—this could be a hurdle. Older tech was one reported issue, as was user error, such as spilling food and drink (which, let's face it, is probably way more likely if your office desk is also your kitchen table).

If an employee has had it with bad tech—which can happen remarkably quickly, in just two seconds, if a page is loading—this kind of frustration can ultimately lead to burnout, and they are also more likely to quit, the survey suggested. 

Tech issues are responsible for all workers wasting time. Nineteen percent of on-site workers reported wasting more than two hours a week, and it increased when workers started becoming hybrid employees, who reported the most time lost.

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