Heavy laptops, uncool smartphones and lame computers – the technical equipment in many German offices is often more than poor. And that can quickly take revenge: Not only because the digital workplace in the company is an important component in lifting the business into a data-driven future. Without cloud computing, there is no work in the field or home office. The digital workplace is now even available as a “workplace-as-a-service”, i.e. completely for rent from the digital cloud.
The technical equipment of the workplace in has another, so far neglected aspect: In the German economy there is a real “digital divide”, a gap between the expectations of the employees and the reality in the company – with unexpected consequences for the technology – Latecomers: Companies that do not equip their digital workplaces up-to-date live dangerously in times of a shortage of skilled workers. You risk massive frustration among the workforce – and in the worst case, even dismissal due to unsatisfactory technical equipment.
That is the central finding of a study by the IT consultancy Unisys, for which a total of 12,000 employees in organizations of various sizes were surveyed in twelve countries. Above all, the results of the local companies show a hitherto underestimated risk for the business location Germany: The technological equipment in the workplace decides whether employees remain loyal to their company – or change jobs. “The fact that a significant number of companies cannot keep up with technology puts them and the entire economy of the country at risk in terms of employee retention,” says Uwe Heckert, Head of Unisys in Germany. “That not only costs resources, it also has a negative effect on your relationship with your employer.”
And that is very clear: According to the study by Unisys, almost half of the employees of “technological laggards” in Germany say negative things about their employer (45 percent). In contrast, for companies that fall into the “technological pioneers” category, this is only one in ten employees (11 percent).
But that’s not all: Almost a third of the employees of technological laggards are frustrated with their employer (30 percent). This in turn correlates directly with an impending loss of manpower: employees among technology laggards are seven times more willing to change employers than those among technological pioneers.
This is particularly worrying because less than a quarter of the companies in Germany whose employees were surveyed are among the technological pioneers (22 percent). That is the lowest value in all 12 countries in which the study was carried out. Around a third of companies worldwide are considered to be technology leaders.
Old devices annoy employees the most: almost every second respondent complains that outdated computers or smartphones prevent them from being more productive (46 percent). In high-tech companies, only 13 percent of respondents said they groan under outdated equipment.
It is hardly surprising that many employees find a remedy themselves – by using their own private devices in their everyday work. The problem: This trend, known as “bring your own device”, relates primarily to smartphones – and harbors potential security risks. Think, for example, of data protection violations when using the WhatsApp messaging app for work.
Nevertheless, more than two-thirds of the employees surveyed who use their private smartphones at work access apps and websites that the IT department of their employers does not support (69 percent) – on the grounds that these are better than the ones that do Company or their company does not offer a suitable alternative.
“The technological equipment in the workplace has an enormous effect on the commitment, well-being and motivation of employees,” says Unisys Germany boss Heckert. “If you take a closer look, the employees are primarily concerned with fast, safe and location-independent access to all their work-related services – and with the right equipment for the devices.” He advises companies to invest in the digital workplace in view of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers. “Otherwise, many will simply look around for new jobs because of their frustration.”