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Is your tech failing your frontline workers?

New research shows an increase in mobility problems for these employees that's hurting their work and their employer's bottom line.
By: | December 3, 2020 • 3 min read

As COVID-19 continues to impact countries around the globe, the pressure on frontline enterprise workers has never been more acute. A new survey found that tech reliability problems are raising stress levels and lowering productivity for those workers and, by extension, their employers.

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According to the survey by B2M Solutions, despite 87% of IT leaders admitting to having some tools in place to proactively monitor and manage their critical IT infrastructure, two-thirds (66%) of frontline workers (16% higher than in 2019) say they experience mobile problems monthly, which hurts their ability to successfully do their jobs, a finding that should raise a red flag for HR leaders.

The third annual State of Enterprise Mobility Survey polled over 1,500 companies across the U.S., Canada and Europe. B2M Solutions, an enterprise mobility solutions firm with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, found that of all the mobile issues reported, the following rank as the most prevalent month to month:

  • 70% reported poor or unstable WiFi or mobile coverage
  • 63% flagged that device batteries drain very quickly and do not last an entire shift
  • 62% reported the mobile apps they use crash often
  • 44% cited that their device reboots for no apparent reason

Gary Lee, chief revenue officer at B2M Solutions, says the data is just the tip of the iceberg, as 85% of employees’ monthly mobile problems go unreported to IT (up from 80% last year). Also, 48% of IT managers admitted to an increase in the number of worker-reported concerns over the last 12-18 months.

With COVID-19 continuing to cause financial stress for both workers and employers, these problems have never been more important. In particular, tech complications for frontline workers can lead to:

  • Lost productivity: IT workers reported a loss in productivity, with 88% saying it takes 30 minutes or longer to resolve mobile problems.
  • Increased costs: Fifty-eight percent report that mobile issues cost their companies unnecessarily. In fact, the total costs related to these concerns over five years are likely 80% or higher of the enterprise’s total cost of ownership of mobile devices.
  • Increased stress: According to the survey, 61% of workers feel stress when their job can’t be done due to mobile problems. To compound this, 44% say they face anger and rudeness if these issues impact their ability to service customers effectively. HR should be concerned because workers report this level of stress often manifests in their taking time off.

“Our survey highlights the growing stress and anxiety felt by workers as they struggle to use failing devices and apps,” Lee says. “HR professionals have always been an advocate for better working conditions for employees to ensure their health and safety, so this data should concern them.”

Lee adds that the field of real-time enterprise mobility intelligence is new, and IT and operations may not be aware solutions exist that can alleviate much of the systemic problems that cause device and app issues and, in turn, stress and anxiety, for workers.

See also: Why embracing long-term remote work is the ‘right thing to do’

“HR can be a strong advocate to raise awareness of both the need for these solutions and the fact these solutions now exist,” he says.

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Lee explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised visibility about the challenges remote employees face to ensure their computers and mobile devices have the connectivity and access required to help them do their jobs, frustrations that perhaps are even more impactful given the other dynamics of working from home in the pandemic.

“HR leaders can first and foremost raise awareness internally of the stress and anxiety reported by workers, as their mobile devices create challenges for them to get their jobs completed,” he says. “This needs to happen especially as we look to a more positive pathway into 2021.”

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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