For many of us, admin is an unavoidable aspect of our workday. However, when administrative processes become outdated, repetitive and time consuming, they can make us inefficient and take us away from our core responsibilities. One survey by Entrepreneur found that 40% of full-time employees end up wasting an hour or more a day on “administrative tasks that do not drive value for their organisation.”
For leaders, it’s imperative to identify those administrative tasks and find tools that automate workflows. Author of the study, Dan Schawbel says, “This study confirms that we can all be more efficient with our workday; there’s an opportunity to eliminate distractions, inefficiencies and administrative work to enable employees to work at full capacity. Creating more time to innovate, collaborate, develop skills and relationships, and better serve customers.”
We’ve found that that the most common drains on our ability to work efficiently and productively at work are:
- Needless Admin
- Outdated Technology
- Repetitive Paper-Based Tasks
- Unnecessary and Lengthy Meetings
This blog explores how technology has the ability to handle and streamline routine business tasks, which in turn will lead to a more efficient, agile and productive workforce.
1) Needless Admin
Sage research has found that small businesses are spending an average of 120 working hours a year on administrative tasks and that an average of 5.6% of staff time in each UK-based small business is used doing back-office tasks, because firms do not have sufficient systems to deal with them. It unveiled that if productivity was increased by the same amount, an extra £33.9 billion could be added to British GDP each year!
One of the biggest drains on admin time can simply be searching for the right information or documents. According to an article from Workplace from Meta, they have found that people can waste huge amounts of time and become frustrated when the knowledge that they need to do their work isn’t easily available. To maximise performance, employers need to look at ways to improve data access to achieve greater workplace efficiency.
“If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive,” so famously said Hewlett Packard CEO Lew Platt. He was talking about knowledge management. So many organisations of all sizes contain huge amounts of information about processes, projects and company structure. Yet the difficulty in finding and then tapping into this knowledge quickly and easily can waste hours out of an employee’s working week.
Businesses have got to keep up with technological advancements. Unfortunately, the knowledge sharing tools used a few years ago may not be up to the job today. Not only will investing in new technology systems help make your workforce more efficient, it will help attract younger workers, who expect the immediacy of communication that they experience in their personal lives to be available in the workplace.
At The Bot Platform, we helped Clarins UK solve this problem. With a distributed UK workforce of around 2,000 employees, they were looking to build their own automated tools on Workplace to better their information exchange, improve processes and develop better access to documents. They created a custom bot to provide easier access to documents and link all of their HR policies and procedures. The results were immediate, with 128 documents searched within seconds of the launch.
2) Outdated Technology
A study by Webexpenses found that 40% of employees described the technology they used as being ‘woefully outdated’ and 48% believed that better workplace technology would improve their productivity.
The study’s author, Adam Reynolds added: “Businesses have an obligation to provide the best possible tools to ensure their employees are able to deliver their job. When employees aren’t working to their full capacity due to outdated business processes, that’s when things need to be addressed. Sophisticated software can often streamline company processes and alleviate workloads for time-strapped staff. Businesses can take measures to have a positive impact and make employees more efficient.”
New research from Currys and AMD, has revealed that the average office worker wastes at least 24 days of working time each year waiting on slow or outdated hardware or software – that’s nearly as long as the paid annual leave allowance for many workers!
A staggering 9 in 10 Brits surveyed admitted they experience tech-related issues in the workplace. With 1 in 5 stating that their technology can’t keep pace and causes them to regularly lose focus.
While it may seem expensive to invest money in regularly upgrading and updating technology, businesses could be haemorrhaging more than that simply by paying employees to wait for the tech to keep up. In fact, the simple act of employees booting up their computer can rack up a cost of just over £1k and around 8.8 days of actual work time for the average British worker. The total (and shocking) figure is just shy of £3k per year, per person, for starting the computer, opening software, navigating meeting technology and opening emails. All it takes is a quick headcount to see the figures radically start to add up.
We recently explored this very subject in our blog about ‘Toggle Tax’. The Bot Platform is always looking for ways to make technology work for us, enabling our interaction with the digital world and building the work tools and applications businesses need to make company operations run effortlessly. No time wasted. Less frustrations for staff. Better productivity.
3) Repetitive Paper-Based Tasks
The Webexpenses survey also found that more than a third of respondents said their company still relied on manual administration processes and more than half (51%) said dated business processes are preventing them from doing their jobs properly. Businesses need to keep up; the emergence of cloud-based tools and real-time data management has virtually eliminated the need for manual or paper-based office administration. When recent data has shown that 26% of workers said they would consider quitting their jobs as a result of dissatisfaction with technology to support their working needs, it’s not something workers are willing to endure. With 42% percent of workers having also spent their own money to work more productively due to their grievances with the technology provided by their company, it’s a ticking time bomb for businesses’ employee satisfaction.
Paper document management and archiving can be an intensive and expensive work. Re-entering data from paper forms can take hours or even days. By adopting a digital solution, your team will reduce the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks and your company will be able to operate more efficiently while reducing costs. An additional benefit is that by using digital data collection technologies you can increase data quality, as the chances of human error will decrease.
Citizens Advice saved 3 hours per person, per month by building tools with The Bot Platform that automated manual and repetitive onboarding tasks and internal processes, so their staff could spend more time on more productive work, like supporting their communities.
4) Unnecessary and Lengthy Meetings
The combined shift to more hybrid working models and advancements in technology mean that connecting and interacting with our co-workers is easier than ever before. However, many employees are drowning in real-time virtual interaction technology, with 40% in more video calls than last year. Whilst interacting is easier than ever, genuine and productive collaboration is not. This wastes valuable resources, because every minute spent on a low-value interaction eats into time that could be used for important, creative, and powerful activities; 24% of workers even stated that too many meetings caused them to miss deadlines.
It’s no wonder a recent McKinsey survey found 80% of executives were considering or are already implementing changes in meeting structure in response to the evolution in how people work. McKinsey has found that many companies are moving to shorter meetings (15 to 30 minutes) rather than the standard default of one-hour meetings in an effort to drive focus and productivity. For example, Netflix launched a redesign effort to drastically improve meeting efficiency, resulting in a tightly controlled meeting protocol. Meetings cannot go beyond 30 minutes. Meetings for one-way information sharing must be cancelled in favour of other mechanisms. Two-way information sharing during meetings is limited by having attendees review materials in advance, replacing presentations with Q&As. Early data shows Netflix has been able to reduce the number of meetings by more than 65 percent, and more than 85 percent of employees favour the approach.
High-quality, focused interactions can improve productivity, speed, and innovation within any organisation—and drive better business performance, as found by the Harvard Business Review. Their article examines how Lotta Laitinen, a manager at If, a Scandinavian insurance company, jettisoned meetings in order to spend more time supporting her team, which led to a 5% increase in sales by her unit over a three-week period.
Technology solutions from the Bot Platform, like Leadership Q&As can help employees and leaders prepare for meetings in advance; keeping agendas on track and ensuring the time is valuable to all attendees. For example, a French top tier football club built an Ask The Boss bot that allows staff to ask anonymous questions to the CEO to answer during their monthly meeting. These questions are then read and prepared for accordingly before the call. This allows staff to have their voices heard, encourage greater knowledge sharing and idea creation, whilst also streamlining the meeting’s agenda and minimising time spent off-topic.
Are you struggling to streamline your administrative time and are you drowning in tedious tasks that prevent company growth? Get in touch today and we’ll help you to become a more efficient and happier workplace.