Slow internet costing Brits up to two full working days a year, survey reveals

by | May 22, 2023

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Almost half (44%) of UK employees work from home, but the necessary infrastructure to work outside the office is not always available.

While half of the country’s homes have access to full fibre, one in two may still rely on inconsistent connections unsuitable for work[6].

In light of this, fibre broadband surveyed over 2,000 UK residents working from home to uncover how much the country’s workforce are slowed down by a poor connection.

On average, UK residents working from home lose eight hours — an entire standard working day — to a poor internet connection[7], costing the economy an estimated £598 million[8]. However, this figure is much higher if you do not live in England. Residents of Greater London lose seven hours when working from home[9], whereas Welsh and Scottish residents have lost 15 and 16 hours of work to slow internet, respectively[10]. That means Scots will lose twice as much time to unreliable connections than English residents.


Older employees working from home have also lost more time to slow internet. While a poor connection wastes six hours of work for 16-24 year olds[11], this figure doubles to 12 hours for over 55s[12]. This could be down to younger generations being more likely to get help from their employers with their internet; over half (54%) of 16-24 year olds had their employer help with their internet speed, compared to less than one in five (19%) of over 55s[13].

Note to editors: If you use any of the data within this release, we kindly ask that you provide a credited link to Uswitch fibre broadband. Linking means we can continue providing you with useful data in future.

Table 1: How employees struggle with poor internet

Consequences of poor internetEmployees affected (%)
Increased stress52%
Reduced productivity44%
Disrupted team meetings37%
Made me behind on to-do list33%
Delayed project deadlines21%

The greatest repercussion of a poor internet connection for work from home employees is an increase in stress. More than half (52%) of workers have been stressed by a slow connection[14] — which affects employees twice a week on average[15].  

In fact, three-quarters (75%) of those working from home have had to find a new place to work altogether — such as a library or a friend’s house — due to an unreliable connection[16]. One in five (19%) reported having to do this between three to five times a month on average[17].

Almost half (42%) of employees have upgraded their internet connection since working from home[18]. Residents of Greater London were most likely to do so (54%)[19], costing residents an additional £51.67 from their previous plan per year[20]. On average, UK residents that upgraded their internet for work paid £46.66 more than their previous deal[21]


Max Beckett, fibre broadband expert, gives tips on improving your Wi-Fi speed and keeping your devices running:

“An unstable internet connection can not only be frustrating, but it can make essential work tasks more time-consuming and difficult than they need to be. If your internet is running too slowly, there are some measures you could take to help improve your connection:

·        Streamline your computer: Check to make sure your device isn’t running any unnecessary programmes that may slow it down. Closing any program updates, web pages, or security scans can give you a faster speed.


·        Adjust your router set-up: Changing where your router is in your home may help your devices run faster. For the best connection, make sure your router is in a central, open area of your home and not obstructed by too many other objects. Turning off other devices that are connected to your router can also help to speed up your connection.

·        Plug yourself in: If you have an ethernet port in your device, you might be able to connect your device for a more reliable connection. Ethernet cables are usually inexpensive – as are adapters that make them work with different ports. They’ll almost always improve your connection when plugged directly into your computer.

If your internet is still running slowly, try running a broadband speed test to see if your speed is consistently lower than what your provider promised. If so, you should contact its customer service team to report a fault. And if your provider fails to repair your service, you may be able to leave your contract penalty-free or claim compensation


However, if your speed test results are about what was promised, it may be because you need a faster broadband package. Take a look at when your current contract ends, bearing in mind any fees that may come with switching early, to see if switching to another deal could give you a faster, more affordable connection. You may be able to leave your current plan for a provider that will save you money in the long-term.”

For more on internet connections across the UK, see Uswitch’s fibre optic statistics page.

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