The start of 2017 is the time to take stock and get a grip on those outdated processes causing your business and workforce ‘document drain’, says Victoria Palmer, Head of Talent Enablement & Operations, Adobe

With 2017 well under way, it’s time for each and every one of us to take stock and figure out how we can make this year as productive as possible.  What’s more, businesses should be taking the same approach and using the start of the year to implement measures and processes that will help their organisation reach new heights of productivity and help their workforce become more effective – particularly when it comes to cutting wasted hours spent on unnecessary administration.

Employee time is a precious commodity and its importance should not be overlooked. In a recent survey of 7,000 office employees across Europe, Adobe Document Cloud found that Europe is facing a so called ‘document drain’, with employees losing 6.8 hours every week to administration.

It is quite staggering to think that office workers are spending almost one day a week on simple office administration. But when you consider the frustrating time we all spend printing documents, sending emails, chasing people for signatures or staring blank faced at failing or outdated technology, it is perhaps less surprising. We also tend to underestimate how long these things take in the first place, with one third of office tasks taking longer than expected.  With this in mind it becomes clearer, just how much time is lost to the so-called ‘document drain’.

This loss of time is particularly frustrating when met with the increasing demand to work long and unsociable hours. Perhaps it is not surprising to hear that 64% of us are now staying at the office late into the evenings or on the weekend. Though flexible and remote working is certainly on the rise, many of us still feel tied to the office, a reality not helped by failing office administrative processes. Nearly half of employees (46%) lay blame at the door of inefficient technology for office admin issues. Surprisingly in our personal lives, many of us are enjoying the use of technology to make things easier – it seems however, that many workplaces have some catching up to do.

While it goes without saying that much of this office administration is a crucial part of business activity, there are certainly some measures that organisations can put in place to streamline these processes, and narrow the drain on wasted time.

Narrowing the drain of administration

One way that managers can do this is through the introduction of electronic signatures. As a relatively new piece of technology in the workplace, electronic signatures are offering office workers greater simplicity in how office administration is done. The entire process of printing, preparing, signing and receiving documents is transformed into a few effortless clicks of a mouse; a workplace innovation that 74% of European employees in the Adobe research have claimed is valuable in achieving higher productivity and more free time.

Of course, the effort to simplify administrative tasks is not new. The development of mobile apps designed to improve office workflow has thrived over recent years. Virtual personal assistants (VPAs), tracking capabilities and voice activation are just a few of the apps now available – these help employees break the ties with the office. In fact, almost half of employees across the UK (45%) responded to our survey saying that mobile apps are critical to the solution of those niggling administration problems and a third (33%) backed VPAs to help them in the future. Apps and assistants are often not cheap to implement, but pose a profitable longer term solution for businesses looking to maximise employee productivity in the workplace.

As digital solutions increase in number and sophistication, they signal a call to action to businesses falling victim to the ‘document drain’. Offering hundreds of saved hours and an end to those feelings of frustration, these simple changes can be a real game changer in the workplace. And it’s not just the business benefits, taking this load off your employees will make them more productive as they find greater enjoyment in their work.  Over the coming year we challenge you to put them into practice, simplify your administration processes, and put a plug in the ‘document drain’!