Unnecessary Administration Wastes Billions

YouGov survey, commissioned by Adobe, reveals employees believe internal politics, duplication of effort and inefficient processes are plaguing UK business.

A survey of 1,151 UK office workers (working in organisations with 50+ employees) paints the picture of an office environment rife with administrative inefficiencies. The survey, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Adobe, highlights how outdated processes, unnecessary duplication of effort, internal politics, and information gathered ‘for the sake of it’, are all contributing to workplace inefficiencies. Significantly, opinion on the burden of unnecessary administration and inefficient processes was similar from the most junior workers to the most senior. This suggests a general acceptance that time wasted on administration is an accepted ‘norm’.

The report found that 30% of respondents claim to spend more than five hours a month on ‘unnecessary administration work’. The total amount of wasted time equated to 7.1 days a year for every employee. With 10 million office workers in total in the UK and based on the average office worker salary, this equates to £8.8 billion of wasted time.

There is a clear link between the way that data is collected and managed and the levels of unnecessary administration. Electronic forms can streamline administrative processes, yet the majority of UK businesses either continue to rely on paper or have simply transferred the inefficiencies of paper-based processes to email.

“The promise of the paperless office and the efficiencies that it would bring, have clearly yet to be realised,”

said David Gingell, Adobe’s senior director of Marketing, EMEA.

The survey reveals that 66% of respondents believed internal politics is the cause of some administrative inefficiencies, while a third claim they are submitting the same information to multiple departments. A further, 43% stated that their company sometimes collects information ‘for the sake of it’. Gingell adds,

“At a time when a motivated workforce could be the difference between success and failure for many organisations, employees either do not see the value of the work they are being asked to do or are wasting time on unnecessary tasks. Whether the perception is mistaken or reality, it creates a worrying scenario of workers disillusioned by the companies they work for.”

Some businesses are rising to the challenge of improving efficiency by investing in tools that can make administrative processes more efficient. Nearly a fifth (17%) of respondents said that their organisation used electronic forms as the primary administrative tool, while only 11% continue to use paper. However, only 37% thought that their organisation collected and used information effectively. With 47% believing that their organisation was slow to adapt to new or more efficient ways of doing things, it may be employees themselves that prove to be the catalyst for change.

Gingell concludes,

“As a business community we need to encourage the use of technologies and tools such as online collaboration services, interactive forms and other web 2.0 applications that are specifically designed to gather, share and manage information. By doing this we can begin to address the levels of frustration highlighted in this report.”

Adobe’s top 5 tips for improving office admin

  1. Clearly communicate why you are asking for information and what value it will bring to the individual or the company.
  2. Assess whether information can be gathered more effectively. For example, as part of other core processes, such as expenses.
  3. Evaluate whether information can be requested once and shared among departments. Ensure that the technology and processes are in place to do so.
  4. Explore other ways of collecting and using information. Electronic forms not only simplify information collection but also automate the sharing and analysis of information.
  5. If you must use email for administration – ensure you have a process for sharing that information and saving it elsewhere so email doesn’t become a silo.


Adobe’s top 3 technologies for improving data collection

  1. Electronic forms –Can simplify the collection of information and automate the sharing of information between systems and departments by feeding data directly into an organisations’ back-end systems.
  2. Online collaboration – Tools like Adobe Connect and Acrobat.com are effective collaboration tools which enable office workers to collect, share and work with information together.
  3. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) – This new breed of applications can be used to create simple and interactive user interfaces for existing administrative processes and applications and better engage employees.

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