The UK's Most-Searched-For Workplace Tech Issues Revealed

27 May 2021

Regardless of sector or industry, the use of technology and software is so commonplace, it's easy to take for granted. Indeed, workplace tech has become so ingrained in today's working landscape, the majority of businesses rely on it to carry out most, if not all, of their day-to-day operations.

It's fair to say that a lot of companies would struggle if they didn't have tech at their disposal. When platforms, applications and tools run into issues, it stifles productivity, slowing down processes and causing unnecessary stress.

With that in mind, we wanted to find out what the most-searched-for workplace tech issues across the UK's workforce were – the results of which you can find below.

How did we carry out this study?

To find out the UK's most-searched workplace tech issues, we looked at search data to find out which problems are Googled the most.

Following this, we ran a survey to quiz 1,000 employees on their work setup, along with the kinds of tech issues they encounter. Their responses helped shape an idea of the commonplace challenges that face employees across a range of industry sectors.

Key Findings

From the survey responses we received, a number of key outcomes are apparent:

  • 37% said they work from a personal laptop, PC or other device
  • Microsoft Outlook is the most frequently used software (40%)
  • More people go to Google (38%) than their Company IT Support (35%) when they encounter a technical issue
  • Only 20% received a computer charger from their workplace
  • 22% of employees believe their workplace doesn’t offer adequate technical support
  • 20% work on PC/laptops that are 5+ years old
  • 32% said they’d missed a meeting due to technical issues and 22% have missed deadlines
  • 24% believe they need better technical training to improve their working experience
  • 24% said they encountered more issues while WFH, and 24% said that they encountered less
  • 29% said they would leave their job due to inadequate technology

GDPR: Why are so many people using their personal devices while working from home? 

Of the people we surveyed, 37% said that they work from a personal laptop, PC or other devices because they were not provided adequate equipment by their company. A further 20% stated that their company hadn't even provided them with a computer charger.

Improperly equipping employees aside, this could well raise a GDPR issue for those using personal hardware for work duties that contain sensitive company information. If businesses are looking to minimise the chance of important data falling into the wrong hands, they should equip their staff with the right hardware as a minimum.

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Google: The answer to all tech problems?

When employees encountered a technical issue while working, the search giant was found to be a more preferable source of knowledge (38%) compared to asking their company's IT support for help (35%). This may not be all that surprising when our results also show that 22% believe their workplace lacked the technical support to deal with their queries.

So, are workplaces offering sufficient IT support for their remote employees? The results suggest that this is an area where some businesses are faltering; 24% of employees believe they need better technical training from employers to improve their experience. Interestingly, however, 24% said they encountered more issues when working from home, while 24% said they encountered less.

Outlook: The most commonly used software in remote working

Compared to other tools and applications, Microsoft proved to be the most-used software across those surveyed (40%). With remote workers spread out across cities, regions and even countries, it makes sense that emails would reign supreme across different industry sectors.

Not showing up to meetings: The new normal?

With face-to-face meetings off the table for the time being, programs like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams have proved popular with remote workers. But 32% of participants surveyed stated they'd actually not been able to attend these remote meetings due to technical issues, while 22% had also ended up missing deadlines for the same reason.

Away from the office, has encountering tech issues become a new excuse for not attending meetings or completing work?  

Avoiding employee turnover: Make sure your tech is up to scratch

Companies with lacklustre hardware might want to take note: 29% of respondents state they would leave their job due to inadequate technology. We found that a fifth of those surveyed said they were working from PCs or laptops that were over five years old. Considering the average lifespan of such equipment is around five years, it's slightly concerning that a fifth of workers are carrying out their duties on hardware that's on its last legs.

If both your hard- and software is a little outdated, then you may want to consider upgrading. An employee's job is challenging enough; poor equipment is only going to frustrate them.

The most-searched issues by software type

Microsoft Office

Microsoft's popular Office package is not without its share of problems. Here are the issues employees Googled the most by application:

  • Microsoft Outlook: The majority of tech problems concerned connectivity, sending emails, and issues with syncing. Other issues surrounded things such as changing to preferred email reading view as well as archiving and recalling specific emails.
  • Microsoft Word: Despite the word processor's intuitive interface, there were a lot of searches of how to perform basic tasks, while it seemed the program starting, crashing and being slow were also issues. Again, is this because of inadequate equipment?
  • Microsoft Excel: Incorrect formatting and calculations proved to be a major headache, while the program also seemed to struggle with large file sizes, corruption and freezing when running alongside other applications.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: In their attempt to optimise presentations, employees frequently Googled search terms concerning layout, transitions and adding other elements to slides. Searches for corrupted files and struggling with large file sizes, a seemingly perpetual issue with MS software, were also regular occurrences.

Communications tools

With remote communication tools used more frequently than ever, employees were bound to encounter issues. Here's what they searched for the most:

  • Zoom: Audio and access-related searches cropped up frequently, while some employees struggled with performance and compatibility problems.
  • Slack: Many of the searches concerned channel management and advanced functions such as quoting and searching, while connectivity and stability-related issues also appeared often in searches.
  • Microsoft Teams: If searches are anything to go off, a wide range of issues plague Microsoft's communication platform. Problems with its camera, display, freezing and users appearing offline cropped up in search engines around the country.

Google search and storage

As for Google itself, how did its own suite of applications fare? Employees took issue with the following:

  • Google Chrome: Problems with stability and speed plagued the platform, while issues surrounding CPU load, bookmarks and tabs were frequently searched for.
  • Google Drive: Syncing, space issues and slow performance appeared often. It seems as though locating files and issues with access also posed problems for those surveyed.
  • Dropbox: Again, syncing and speed were frequent headaches for Dropbox users, while its desktop app version struggled with stability as well as local file/syncing permissions.

The most common workplace issues by sector 

Finance: An industry sector flush with issues

People working in finance encountered some of the most technical issues overall, with 36% of those surveyed encountering more issues working from home. That said, these employees were also the second-most likely of any industry sector to ask their company for IT support (50%), while those working in the public sector are the most likely to seek company specialist IT advice (55%)

Charities encounter issues more frequently

Those working in the charity sector experienced technical issues most frequently, with 10% of those surveyed reporting technical issues every few hours while at work.

Media and Entertainment: Company devices upstaged by personal equipment

At 85% of respondents, those in the media and entertainment industries work from home the most. They're also the industry that rely most on their own personal devices (75%) rather than being provided ones by their company.

A further 20% are using devices that are over 10 years old. Despite remotely working on outdated equipment, 50% noted that they rarely experience technical issues.

The tech sector's missed opportunities

A quarter of those working in the tech sector said their IT company support was inadequate. Perhaps this was the reason that 48% of tech employees missed meetings because of technical issues, while 52% state they'd missed deadlines for the same reason.

In an industry where more can go wrong, are tech issues more prevalent?

Retail's tech turnover

Although they ranked fairly low on the number of technical issues they experienced, 40% of retail workers noted they were more likely to leave their jobs due to inadequate tech.

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