Non-IT staff want to see legislation in place to force employers to improve the reliability of their IT infrastructure.
According to a survey sponsored by systems integrator Dimension Data, 58 per cent of the 450 managers in non-IT departments interviewed would like to see European legislation put in place to protect employees from the stress of failing IT systems. And the majority of these believe that legislation will exist within five years.
Dimension estimates the cost of lost business and productivity to UK industry because of network and systems failures to be in the region of £38bn annually.
"Although 'e-rage' has been flagged up as a concern in the past it is seldom examined in terms of the potential reduction in productivity caused by chronic stress," said Martin Chilcott, global head of marketing at Dimension. "When you add to that the regular loss of working hours caused by systems downtime it becomes clear that companies need to focus on finding a solution to this problem."
Richard Jones, head of technical affairs for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said he was not surprised by the level of support for legislation.
"There is legislation already in place that covers IT equipment and employee stress, but it is not explicit about systems or networks going down," he explained.
One in three UK respondents said the network fell under direct responsibility of the board, and 40 per cent across Europe felt that their networks would be more reliable if outsourced to specialists.
But analysts poured scorn on the concept of European legislation and called for more empathy for IT staff.
"Legislation is a step too far. If the network stands in the way of business, companies can sort this out by themselves," said Iain Stevenson, research director of next-generation networks for analyst group, Ovum. "That said, IT departments must forward plan more during the installation and upgrade of networks and communicate the cost implications to the board."
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