According to a recent report from Reuters, “Employees who fritter time away on Facebook, Twitter and other social media Web sites are costing British businesses billions”. Apparently, the British employment website said it polled 1,000 British workers and found that nearly six per cent, or 2 million, of Britain’s 34 million-strong workforce spent over an hour per day on social media while at work, amounting to more than one eighth of their entire working day.

I am wondering if the they went on to ask why so much time was being spent browsing the web. Could it be that the critical business systems they were meant to be using to perform their jobs were unavailable, and so there as little else to-do? A new report from CA Technologies looks at the impact on staff productivity when business-critical IT systems experience unplanned downtime. It shows that European companies are together losing 37 million man hours each year because of these failures. Doing the sums I make that equal to a 21,000 employee organisation sitting idle for one whole year. If I worked there I might feel inclined to occasionally browse Facebook in order to break the boredom. Assuming of course that the network is working!

As organisations struggle to grow revenue (or even maintain revenue levels), in this fragile economic environment, it is important that they achieve the maximum return from any investment.For most companies the biggest investment will be in staff, and so having a fully productive work force is critical. The “Avoidable Cost of Downtime” survey shows that during an IT systems outage, affected employees only work at 63 percent of their usual productivity. Given this, the speed of recovery from an unplanned failure becomes even more important.The technology for fast recovery of systems has evolved dramatically over the last few years, and in parallel the cost of deploying high availability solutions has dropped.

Therefore, no matter what size the organisation is and what IT budgets it has, there is a solution available to help maximize the ‘up time’ of the systems. It is therefore important for organisations to be proactive and evaluate the impact an outage would have on the productivity of their staff, and not wait for what is an inevitable outage to occur.