How to calculate the business impact of a digital workplace

By Tom Clarke - March 22, 2021

When digital doesn’t work

The fact that you’re reading this blog shows that you understand something a lot of businesses don’t: digital performance isn’t just about numbers. It’s about people. 

 

You know that if your people aren’t able to use technology as intended - if they’re constantly fighting against laggy load times and audio jitter - it’s bound to have an impact on your business. The question is, how much of an impact?

 

Buffering, slowness and stoppages aren’t just mild daily frustrations that we’ve all got to get used to. Sure, on an individual level we might be able to dismiss them for a while. But if you get a company-wide view over a longer period, you begin to see that a few minutes lost here or there is actually a problem worth millions of dollars.

 

This guide is designed to help you explore where poor human experience is having an impact on your business and start putting some figures against it. By identifying where there is a cost, you also identify where there is an opportunity to make changes that address that wastage.

 

We’re not going to suggest this is a straightforward issue to address. But in today’s post-pandemic, hybrid working, digital-first world, it’s no longer something businesses can ignore. Those that do will simply not survive. 

 

But then, you already knew that. Which is why you’re still reading. It’s time to get ahead of the curve.

 

“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… If they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.”  - John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco Systems

 

Operational efficiency and revenue costs

How much work can the average employee in your business get done in an hour? If they’re using a networked application then part of the answer will depend on their experience of your digital business.

 

If an internal programme is slow to load or an employee is constantly having to ask a prospect on a sales call to repeat themselves because the audio is so poor, it’s going to be impossible for them to be 100% efficient.

 

This impacts your business financially in two ways. First, there’s the payroll cost of employees who are having to wait, slowed down or even stopped by poor service from your digital business. The percentage of time lost in this way varies from company to company and employee to employee but the average is 36 minutes.


Then there’s the potential revenue opportunity if operational efficiency improvements were made. How much income could each employee generate for your business if they had that extra 36 minutes back every day?

 

“On average, your digital business wastes 36 minutes of employee time each day due to buffering, slowness or stoppages.”

 

To calculate the direct productivity costs associated with poor digital performance you’ll need to have three numbers to hand:

 

  1. Fully loaded employee cost This is the average cost per employee to the business, including salary, benefits and other costs.
  2. Number of employees
  3. Digital time per working day This is the average percentage of the day your employees spend using networked applications to do their jobs.

Once you have those numbers, simply plug them into our human experience calculator, then drag the dial up or down to see how the associated costs change as digital experience becomes more or less disrupted.

 

Be warned: the results may shock you.

The hidden costs of poor digital HX

Calculating the operational and revenue efficiency cost of a poor digital experience is one thing. But we’ve already agreed that true digital performance is about people, not just numbers. And when we start to dig into human experience a bit more deeply, we realise that there are other less tangible costs that nevertheless have a significant impact on a business.

 

Wellbeing

We’ve all experienced the frustration of a slow loading web page or the audio stuttering on a video conference call. If it happens once in a while, we can probably live with it. But when it happens all the time, it can begin to have an effect on our wellbeing. 

 

Ongoing frustration - especially when coupled with what may seem like a company’s refusal to do anything to fix it - impacts our stress levels, job satisfaction and morale. This in turn has a knock on effect on productivity and ultimately on staff turnover, with all the associated costs.

(FURTHER READING Using analytics to improve employee wellbeing)

 

Equality

The truth is that not all of your employees are experiencing your digital business in the same way. Under a hybrid model of work the experience of home workers is likely to be different to those working in the office, for example. 

 

Among home workers, some will be able to afford high speed broadband, where others won’t. Those with children playing online computer games or streaming shows on Netflix after school will have to share their bandwidth. For all of these reasons and more, human experience can have a significant impact on equality efforts.

(FURTHER READING Inequality - the hidden cost of remote working)

 

Environment

The pandemic highlighted the huge potential for businesses to utilise remote working. One of the benefits of people working from home is the impact on the environment, reducing the need for carbon-heavy travel. But these benefits are lost if people’s experience of your digital business makes it impossible to work from home.

 

By improving human experience to a degree where people can work as efficiently from home as they can in the office, businesses can calculate environmental efficiencies in terms of tonnes of CO2 saved. With pressure to meet ESG targets and consumers demanding sustainability measures as standard, the financial implications come both from compliance and a sales revenue perspective.

(FURTHER READING The (un)surprising benefits of full scale remote working)

Now you’ve got a clearer picture

You read this blog because you understood that poor human experience impacts your business, and you wanted to start to understand the extent of that impact. If you’ve used our human experience cost calculator, you’ll already have a minimum figure to work with.

 

Adding the influence of factors such as employee wellbeing, equality and environmental considerations means this figure is just a start. As you can see, the impact of a poor human experience of your digital business is likely far greater than you originally thought.

Reaping the reward of positive human experience

The good thing is that working out the scale and scope of the problem in financial terms is the first step towards improving it. Once you know where the biggest costs are, you can understand how to prioritise digital improvements in order to gain the greatest returns.

 

The opportunities are enormous. By improving your employee experience you can increase productivity and efficiency, boost wellbeing, even reduce staff turnover rates. By ensuring digital performance offers a positive human experience across the board, you can support equality, facilitate remote working and reduce your environmental impact in the way society is increasingly demanding businesses do.

Next steps and how to get started

To understand the true performance of complex digital environments, to understand where to invest most strategically to deliver the greatest returns, basic metrics and performance stats are not enough.

 

That’s where Actual Experience can help. If you want to deepen your understanding of how human experience of your digital ecosystem is impacting your bottom line - and how to prioritise improvements - talk to us.

 

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