One in five in the UK workforce spend over 7 hours – nearly a full workday – reading paper at their desks, while Scottish working adults think they often don’t have easy access to the right information and instructions to do their jobs well.
These and other equally disturbing results from a survey published at the start of May show how UK workers are spending a significant proportion of their time dealing with paperwork – while frustrations from communicating and collaborating with colleagues highlight the need for better digital tools to manage mobile working.
The findings come from a company called Re-flow, which says it is “committed to assisting UK companies to Get Good Form by banning bad forms”. That’s because, it suggests, eliminating inefficient paperwork and ensuring people only see what they need to read “reduces stress, saves time and increases productivity” – while going digital keeps all project information, documents and photos together forever, while also providing an indisputable audit trail.
The dataset the company used was from a YouGov online survey conducted in February whose figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults aged 18+: yearly averages were then re-calculated by Re-flow based on these figures. And this is what it discovered:
- Workers in the North East spend the most amount of time reading, completing and locating documents at almost 90 hours per employee per annum
- Medical and health services (102 hours) Education (97 hours), and Construction (90 hours) professionals spend the most amount of time dealing with paperwork
- 58% of all workers always have a smartphone with them at work – but only 39% often carry digital copies of information instead of paper copies
- 21% of UK workers spend more than 7 hours per month reading paper work
- 24% of UK workers say they are often unconvinced that people are completing work when they say they are
- 33% of UK workers think that life at work is too bureaucratic.
Breaking things down regionally, workers in Scotland believe life at work is the most overly bureaucratic in the country with 43% of workers stating that they think life at work is overly concerned with procedure at the expense of common sense, while administration is a big concern for North West workers, as they spend the most amount of time looking for lost paperwork at almost 11 hours a year on the hunt.
They are also the most stressed in the UK about keeping related paperwork together (13%), while staff in Northern Ireland are spending the most amount of time form filling in the UK at 36 hours a year, the highest numbers of people getting stressed about explaining technical subjects to people (21%), not being able to easily change plans after they’ve been made (16%) and providing evidence of what work they’ve completed (22%).
Commenting on the results his team had discovered, the firm’s Managing Director, Mike Saunders, noted that, “Physical paperwork and the associated frustrations that go with it are hampering efficiency in the UK economy at a time when we need to be optimising our business processes to protect thinning profit margins.
“Many companies are so entrenched with their traditional ways of working that they are blinkered to the loss in productivity that operating with a paper-based system is causing them.”
And when asked what they find most stressful at work, the second most irritating thing after wi-fi signal problems was dealing with paperwork (22%), trying to interpret other people’s handwriting at 18% and 14% said when asked to provide evidence of work they have completed when already handed in. Finally, losing important forms and filing was seen as a headache by 13% and 10%, respectively.
Go here for a full version of the findings.