UK Workers Hit With Admin Aggravation, Reveals Nationwide Study

New research has revealed that the average UK worker is tied to their desk for more than seven working weeks a year (37 days a year) carrying out basic administrative tasks, such as updating reports, inputting data, filing expenses, bookkeeping, timesheets, and invoicing and billing. The cost of this red tape to British businesses, equates to more than £104 billion a year.

The UK-wide survey of 1,117 people discovered that data entry is the most time consuming administrative task, with 18 per cent of workers spending more than six hours a week on it. Scots were found to spend most time inputting data, dedicating half an hour longer than the UK average of two hours and 18 minutes.

The study showed that workers spend a fortnight a year updating reports, devoting just over 90 minutes a week to the job. Financial tasks, such as filing expenses, invoicing clients and bookkeeping were found to collectively take up another fortnight a year. The survey revealed that most workers spend 21 minutes a week on conference calls, but this still equates to nearly two and a half days throughout per year.

The poll was designed to find out how much time UK organisations could save by streamlining their business processes. The study found that many Brits spend a large portion of their working week on non-billable tasks that aren’t a core part of their job, and are unlikely to generate additional income.

Nationally, the survey revealed that workers take five hours and 45 minutes a week to complete administrative tasks. If you combine this with internal meetings and conference calls this amounts to nine working weeks a year; almost twice the average Brit’s holiday allowance.

Perhaps the most significant finding from the study is that most workers would rather spend their time at work focusing on new business activities. The majority of people polled said that they’d like to devote more of their working week to meeting prospective clients, promoting the business they work for, and supporting existing clients.

With Britain starting to emerge from the global recession, you’d expect most companies to be hard at work trying to generate new business. However, many workers struggle to find time to do this, as non-core tasks, such as inputting data and updating reports, still take up too much time. It’s costing UK businesses a fortune, with the money essentially going down the drain.

If the average worker started working on these tasks at the beginning of 2011, they would work non-stop until lunchtime on Monday 7 March. Companies can’t afford for staff to spend such a large amount of time on non-billable activities. A lot of the time workers are being held back by a lack of tools to help them get admin tasks done quickly and efficiently. Many companies still use outdated, badly-designed software that can only be accessed in the office.

It’s clear to see that a new generation of tailored and more flexible business applications is desperately needed by Britain’s businesses. By adopting cloud-based applications that can be accessed via a web browser, organisations could work much smarter. Staff could reduce the amount of ‘dead time’ spent travelling to and from meetings by updating reports wirelessly whilst on the go. In some cases, tasks could even be performed automatically.

Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.