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Old computers make for unhappy workers

Written by: Staff

LONDON, May 10: Dealing with the frustrations of ageing and unreliable office computers contributes to workers' unhappiness and more sick-leave, a survey showed today.

A poll conducted by Tickbox.net of over 2,700 European office workers from the UK, France and Germany found that workplace dissatisfaction increased significantly with the age of computer equipment.

British and French respondents said working on outdated computers was the most irritating aspect of office life.

''Overall we do know that job satisfaction is in decline in Britain and in most advanced nations,'' said Stephen Overell, a spokesman for The Work Foundation, a think tank and consultancy specialising in the working life.

''The actual reasons for this are the subject of very intense debate. It's certainly one interesting theory that technology may be the cause of this in some way,'' Overell said, noting that computers have become a part of most jobs.

Almost 40 per cent of workers surveyed in the three countries were using computers at least three years old, with clerical and administrative workers among those using the oldest equipment.

About a third of Britons polled said they work on office equipment that was three years old or more.

Just under a quarter of those using outdated computers in Britain - defined in most cases as five years or more - said they were ''quite'' or ''very dissatisfied'' with their everyday job compared to 16 per cent of those benefiting from up-to-date technology.

Overall, 75 per cent of those working with old equipment agreed that an upgrade would lead to more productivity, the independent survey commissioned by computer screen maker ViewSonic found.

The survey also said that among workers dealing with outdated equipment, there was a 35 per cent greater likelihood they would take six or more days of sick-leave per year compared with the average worker. In France, where more workers use older computers, the likelihood jumped to 55 per cent.

About two-thirds of those polled also complained of problems like eye fatigue, headaches, and repetitive strain injury (RSI).

The number was highest in France.

Results also showed that women in all three countries were consistently more likely to be using outdated equipment.

In the UK, where more workers have up-to-date computers than in the other countries surveyed, the number of women using old equipment doubled that of men.

The Work Foundation's Overell pointed out there were two sides to the problem, noting that constantly having to deal with new technology and new equipment can also be a source of stress.

''Old and faulty equipment is a major cause of organisational strife, there's no question about it, but you also have to say that constant change is also, or could be, a significant cause of dissatisfaction.''


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