Around 12 per cent of the UK workforce would find being unable to access their computer for a day more stressful than being left by their partner, according to a survey by ICL.
The survey, conducted by Benchmark Research in July, questioned 200 executives from manufacturing, service and public sector industries. They were asked to compare various stressful situations with those caused by being denied access to their PC for one day.
Some 68 per cent said being without a PC was more stressful than visiting the in-laws, and 79 per cent said it would be worse than queuing in a bank or waiting to be served in a busy bar.
Around 38 per cent said being unable to use their PC would be more stressful than being stuck on public transport, 30 per cent said it would be worse than baby sitting and public speaking, while 12 per cent said it would be more stressful than being left by a partner.
Psychologists said the findings are a marker on how important computers had become to those who use them regularly.
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology at the University of Manchester's Institute of Science and Technology, told vnunet.com: "We have become so attached to computers through word processing and email that we feel they are fundamental to our work. It is stressful when systems crash - we think that we're unable to work and feel that we can't use lesser forms of technology like writing or a typewriter."
"More and more people such as freelancers work from home and they're particularly vulnerable, as their umbilical cord providing their connection with the outside world is through the machine. But I wouldn't say it is more stressful than breaking up with a partner," he added.
The survey also showed that the majority of staff are unhappy with help desk response times and a lack of training on resolving problems themselves.
Some 40 per cent of those polled said they had to spend more than an hour waiting for IT problems to be resolved, and one third claimed to lose over half an hour of work time a day due to slow/unreliable technology. However, 93 per cent said new media technologies like email made accessing information at work faster.
"These results say a lot about people's attitudes to IT staff," said Professor Cooper. "There aren't enough IT staff, many don't stay in one organisation long enough to build up a personal relationship and many are in IT anyway because they're not very good at personal relationships. Users feel that they've lost control when systems crash."
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