Opinion

Get a grip on outdated processes and put a plug in the document drain

5 min read

30 June 2017

Have you ever thought that office processes could be holding your business back? Perhaps the document drain is not top of your list – but it should be.

A study conducted by Adobe Document Cloud has found that professionals across Europe are losing 6.8 hours every week to administration – a veritable document drain that makes workers feel tied to the office as victims of inefficient processes that drain their time and resources. 

With enterprise technology rapidly growing in sophistication, it’s surprising that this is still the reality for so many businesses.  

The loss of almost one day a week to administration is particularly frustrating when workers are met with increasing demands to work unsociable hours.

Indeed, 64 per cent of workers are now staying at the office late into the evenings, or into the weekend, according to the study. This is despite more workers experiencing the rewards of flexible and remote working.

These frustrations are not helped by increasingly poor office administrative processes, with nearly half of employees (46 per cent) laying the blame on inefficient technology.

But which tasks in particular are wasting employee time? Nearly all working professionals (96 per cent) paint printing and emailing documents as the biggest culprits of the document drain.

It’s easy to sympathise, considering the speed with which email inboxes fill up, or the amount of time we see colleagues standing over the printer. Up to three-quarters of European employees are calling out for change with how these mind-numbing tasks are managed.

Adobe’s research also looked into some of the stresses and strains associated with managing documents in the workplace – from chasing signatures and searching for lost documents to raising purchase orders and handling contracts.

Document drain process inefficiency is not just annoying employees – it is costing businesses dearly.

The document drain means that almost half of employees (48 per cent) have lost a contract altogether due to glitches in office admin, and one in three (33 per cent) have had to cancel a project for the same reason – a staggering finding, considering it is only simple office processes which are standing in the way.

It’s clear that this is not sustainable. Administrative and document processes are critical to business activity, and changing them can be cumbersome and even controversial. That being said, the study reveals the huge opportunity that businesses have to digitally transform office admin and do away with much of the frustration evidenced by employees today.

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Plugging the dreaded document drain

According to the research, electronic signatures are becoming a key opportunity in transforming the European office—with 74 per cent of employees seeing them as a valuable innovation.

Using electronic signatures means that with a few simple clicks the entire process of processing documents (from preparing and printing to signing and receiving) is simplified significantly—giving back valuable time to office workers.

Mobile apps were also recognised as an important innovation in the workplace. Almost half of employees across France (49 per cent), UK (45 per cent) and Germany (44 per cent) said mobile apps are critical to solving document problems, highlighting a huge business opportunity to implement smarter document technology and efficient, digital solutions.

Virtual personal assistants (VPAs), tracking capabilities and voice activation are just a few of the apps now available.

European employees have plenty of ideas about how they would make use of time freed up by greater workplace efficiency. Nearly half (42 per cent) of UK employees indicate they would spend this time on a side project, while 40 per cent of German employees would rather spend their extra day socialising with friends and family. 

These findings should be a big wake-up call for businesses and help them to reimagine their administrative processes through apps, digital documents, and other technologies.

They can save valuable employee time, improve employee satisfaction and morale. This is a great opportunity to transform the everyday experiences of employees and customers alike, and invest in the future growth and success of your company.

Victoria Palmer is head of talent enablement & operations, Adobe