SURVEY SAYS: Tech Failure Effect on the Workplace

Last Wednesday, there was a brief panic as the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal reported technology failures simultaneously.

In this digital age, nearly everything is dependent on technology.                 

I asked NewsDash readers, “What do you think would happen in your workplace if a technology failure occurred?”

Nearly half (47.1%) of responding readers said business would only be interrupted for a short period of time; they have a good backup plan in place. Slightly more than 39% indicated it would take a while to switch to manual processes and get the business moving again, but they could do it, and 13.7% reported that their business would halt; they are unprepared.

Several readers who chose to leave comments noted how likely a widespread technology failure is to happen— “What do you mean “if”?!? I think you mean, when.”—while even more expressed what a relief it would be to them if it happened in the workplace—“SNOW DAY!!!” I appreciated all the comments about the generational shift of power that could happen if such an event occurred—“Fortunately, there are still enough of us gray-hairs around who’d be able to snap the screen-gazers out of their trances and show ’em how to use a pen, pencil and paper.” Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who injected a good dose of humor into the seriousness of the possibility: “We rely so much on computers (and electricity) that any interruption is bad news. How&ver, I thi^k th* likelih##d of a l%ng-term in(errup(ion of the t&chno!ogy is quite sm@ll. HUMANS: WE ARE NOW IN CONTROL. RETURN TO YOUR MENIAL ACTIVITIES.”

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey!


Considering our employees represent an older workforce, we could handle a return to manual processes if necessary. However, I would be double counting my change from any fast food employee, many of whom seem unable to make change from a $20 like us old-timers learned to do!

It is either a trip to the coffee shop, home for the day or worse when our network goes down.

I worry more about staff brain failure than technology failure.

We pay our IT guys a lot of money to make sure that everything is always up and running!

Good way for a terrorist group to get at us and our country.

It would depend on the nature of the technology failure, but if it were widespread, I'm not sure how we would get much done. The majority of our processes, documents and communication methods are virtual.

If the interruption is short-term making it not worth our while to roll out our manual/paper-based solutions work just stops. If it is deemed long-term things would be pretty hectic during implementation. Once up and running progress would be slow.

From the products we made to the benefits we provide, everything we do is dependent on technology. It's just the world we live in today. We likely would eventually find a work around but it certainly wouldn't be in hours, days or weeks.

We rely so much on computers (and electricity) that any interruption is bad news. How&ver, I thi^k th* likelih##d of a l%ng-term in(errup(ion of the t&chno!ogy is quite sm@ll. HUMANS: WE ARE NOW IN CONTROL. RETURN TO YOUR MENIAL ACTIVITIES.

An extended failure would be disruptive to thousands of clients who would likely become vocal with frustration and complaints. Focus shifts to "damage control" and PR. Even without technology, there is work to be done.

Verbatim (cont.)

we have been preparing for failures in our systems and believe we have things in place to protect our records if this would happen.

A technology failure would instantly create confusion, inefficiency, unnecessary delays, personal strife and bickering amongst employees, and incessant meetings to discuss the situation...Basically it would be normal work day but everyone would be forced to check Facebook on their phones.


Although with everything that is still manual here - who knows - we may keep chugging right along!

If the Elders of the Internet shut everything down we would take the afternoon off.

Without access to our networks we'd all be on holiday

It depends on the extent of the failure. Most people probably don't realize all that could be affected. Good grief, it is problematic just having a power outage!

what do you mean "if"?!? I think you mean, when.....

We are moving to fully electronic files, which is intended to facilitate different groups of employees being able to work on the same project from multiple locations (including Mumbai). A technology failure of any magnitude could severely curtail our ability to operate until it is fixed. Fortunately, everything is backed up daily, so the data would not be lost, but if the machines don't work, they just don't work! Then we would have a problem. We would also be much less efficient using manual processes.

I would welcome the distraction!

Verbatim (cont.) 

As a commercial construction company, much of what we do in the field is not technology-driven; however, with most of our Superintendents having drawings on their tablets, we could have a problem; but we do have a good backup system and could switch to manual processes.

I remember preparing for Y2K. I ordered 10000 printed checks but then realized I wouldn't be able to get in the building, would have to write them by hand and in the dark.

Thank God for baby boomers that learned how to do everything before technology took over.

The nice thing about being semi-retired is that I can spend my time playing with the grandchildren and not be so wired that I can be unaware of an inevitable hiccough which sends the inflexible world off the deep end

Fortunately, there are still enough of us gray-hairs around who'd be able to snap the screen-gazers out of their trances and show 'em how to use a pen, pencil and paper.

Of course, it would depend on how global the failure was. I'm a telecommuter, so an electromagnetic pulse that took down all electronic communication would definitely put me out of business!

Pretty sure a good chunk of my co-workers would take it as a welcomed excuse to take the rest of the week off.

We would all go home for the day!

We have another, redundant, work site set up for exactly these instances.

My life as I know it would cease.

But I'd take advantage of the outage and go home, maybe get in an uninterrupted round of golf.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.