Internet a massive waste of time say UK employers

In spite of the promise of collaborative working, software as a service (SaaS), professional development and enhanced communications that the internet offers, recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that employers in UK businesses regard the internet as a massive time-waster. The internet refuseniks in senior management are running the risk of alienating younger employees according to the study, which polled 1,000 managers aged under 35. 16% of respondents described their employers as ‘dinosaurs’ and I reckon they’re thinking less of the aggressive tyrannosaurus rex and more of the plodding diplodocus.

That’s borne out by the predictable stats regarding provision of email access (95%) and intranet communications (81%) and Web 2.0 technology, web-based applications, organisational message boards and webcasting still only have traction at a small proportion of companies.

This climate of caution – 49% of managers say their employer only takes up innovations once they’re tried and tested (i.e. no longer innovative) – could see UK businesses lag behind their competitors according to Jan Hutchinson, director of HR & corporate services at Ordnance Survey, which published the report in association with the CMI. “The low level adoption of new technology is in tandem with employers’ belief that internet usage is a time waster,” she says. “Its something that must be looked at because the longer this situation is allowed to remain unchallenged the greater the likelihood UK employers will fall behind their international competitors.”

Employers’ seem happy with email but unwilling to engage with the internet as a business tool. One webhosting firm has reported a 50% rise in the number of new mailboxes being created each month and thinks businesses are looking to email to replace costlier postal, fax and face-to-face communications. However, employers concerns about workers just using the web for personal reasons may be overblown. After all, the CMI report states that only 41% of the managers interviewed regard the internet as a ‘social space’ – or were they scared their bosses were looking over their shoulders?

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.