CA looks at webstress

Last week on my twitter account (click here to follow me), I hinted at this mysterious project in London that I couldn’t talk more about. Well now I finally can and it’s a really cool one :o)

CA (formerly Computer Associates) commissioned a study (called The CA 2009 Webstress Index) to look at webstress, a term they came up with to describe the frustration and unhappiness you experience when a crucial web application is not working properly.

Here I am, talking about the study:

And here are some of the key findings:

  • 68% of workers say they rely on web applications more now than two years ago and 97% wouldnít be able to do their job without them.
  • 24% say that every day they have to cope with badly performing applications with an additional third 34% claiming this happens on a weekly basis.
  • 81% say they have no choice but to use some business applications even when they arenít working properly

You can see the whole study here.

This study is interesting because it confirms something I’ve seen in many workplaces: Employees are reliant on IT systems to their jobs. Increasingly, the IT systems we use are web applications, meaning they reside “somewhere on the internet”. When these systems are slow, buggy or unavailable we get frustrated and angry.

This is especially true these days, where companies are demanding ever higher levels of productivity, efficiency and customer service from their people. If companies demand this but don’t give employees the well-functioning tools they need to deliver, the result is unhappiness at work.

And of course, when employees are unhappy at work, the results are:

  • Lower productivity
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Higher employee turnover
  • Lower customer satisfaction
  • Lower profits

These factors taken together can cost organizations huge sums of money.

Speaking from my own experience, my own company is absolutely dependent on web apps – all our vital IT systems run on a web server somewhere. If any of them are not working, we’re basically crippled. Fortunately, that happens very rarely or I would be suffering from seeeeerious webstress :o)

The same goes on the customer side. We all use web applications to buy books, plane tickets, movie tickets, hotels, etc. – and when these web apps aren’t working or seem too slow, there are always ten other sites offering much the same products at much the same prices.

If your company offers any kind of web application to its customers, that system should make them happy. At the very least, it shouldn’t give them webstress and make the unhappy because its, slow, buggy or even down.

I think it’s time for organizations to take webstress seriously. CA’s study confirms what I’ve seen in many workplaces all over the world, namely that badly performing web applications is a major source of unhappiness at work and in customers. And THAT’S why I am so excited about the CA study.

Full disclosure:
CA offers Application Performance Monitoring Solutions that let organizations track the performance of web applications. They are paying me to contribute to this campaign but I still mean every word :o)

Your take

What about you? Are you using any crucial web apps in your job? Have you experienced web stress?

10 thoughts on “CA looks at webstress”

  1. Hi Alex

    What an exciting opportunity to be part of what has to be a very worthwhile study. Well done!

    I just wonder whether the scope is not too narrow. Let me explain.

    One of the major causes of stress today has to be email; and I wonder whether business leaders recognise this. For example I was out of my office with no email access for less than 2 days last week and I returned to over 100 emails which took me the best part of another day to respond to (and there are still a couple of less important ones that remain unopened!) This has a major impact on the other things on my ever-growing “to do” list!

    My business also needs me to network, so over and above this and keeping up with my networks, I am trying to get the hang of social media and so also need to spend time on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Consequently I am increasingly getting the sense of being on a treadmill and losing control (i.e. about to fall off the back! :) ) Some of this is just the inevitable consequence of trying to develop my own business, but I wonder whether managers have understood the implications of all this technology.

    If an employee gets 50 emails a day and on average they take 3 minutes each to respond to, that means 150 minutes a day or 2.5 hours! Clearly this has to have some impact and I doubt whether most organisations make enough allowance for this – or the stress it is likely to cause in a deadline driven environment that is trying to improve communication!!

    Coincidentally, it also makes a mockery of basing work on a fixed number of hours rather than inputs and outputs! Perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to break down that anachronism!

    Anyway, that’s my ha’pence worth. I hope it contributes to your efforts!

    Keep smiling

  2. Just yesterday I expierend a lot of webstress.
    Writting om my new book in Bali and at the same time it is essential for me to be able to be on the internet, checking and answering working emails from Denmark …and guess..what … the internet were eighter not working og working so slow that I had to do suduko while waiting to update some stuff. I lost a lot of emails while sending them.
    It took me 5 hour to do what normely take me 1hour. So talking about webstress……I was sooooooo frustreded.
    Left for a massage … felt better …actualy much better after that and to day the internet is a bit faster. …. decided first to go on the intenet 4 pm not to spoil my whole day. Not easy to work from here, except for working offline writting on the book, so maby I did choose the right place to write ;-)

  3. Very interesting!
    … and all the more reason to “manage your geeks” better and be nicer to them as their boss :)

    I’ll use this info as even more evidence in my workshops :)


  4. It’s a problem at home too – maybe particularly for folks like me who are severely disabled to the point where web-based activity is pretty much one’s entire productive life.

  5. I used to love email – but I find that if you are not careful, people don;t read the messages and information is lost and time and money are wasted. I had a boss once who used to say, tell em that it’s coming by email and it is their problem if they don’t read it or action the work. However, I don’t think I agree with that anymore.. I find it more effective to pick up the phone,,, not easier,, but more effective!

  6. Dear DH
    You are right we have to be carefull … we always have, and we have to take risks well ;-)
    I love email, I am consultant and I live of email and always answer them. I am carefull-if it is a important messagde, I ask people for a “request read receipt” which a lot of people answer. If I do not get repons from importatnt. I call. It takes a lot of good planning. I spent probably 1-2 hours a day to check and answer emails and opdate my blog and read and update Facebook . For me it is important inspiration and networking.

  7. web stress – you bet!
    One of the down sides of living in my lovely part of the world (the French Pyrenees) is the internet connection. And as I use a web based CRM package and do virtually all my work online it can be incredibly frustrating watching the timer tick down as documents etc upload to my UK server!

    Most of my work is done via email and whilst email language can sometimes be misunderstood I don’t think I could run my business without it. In fact I could not run my business without email!

    I think its called “progress?”

    Hampshire Accountants
    Accountants Hampshire

  8. It’s almost scary just how much we’re coming to rely on web applications to do our jobs…although they improve our speed and efficiency, this is only when they’re functioning properly!

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