SMEs waste more than half a million pounds per year

An SME employing 150 workers sat at computers, wastes more than half a million pounds per year, a survey has revealed.

More than 2,000 UK employees who use computers on a daily basis were polled; it turns out the average amount of time wasted per employee each day is 1.04 hours, because they cannot collaborate on content effectively.

And, taking the average hourly wage of £14.31, and 228 working days per year, each employee costs an SME £3,393 per year. This means 150 employees will cost a business £508,978 annually.

Commissioned as a joint venture between IT service provider Spherica, and Box, a cloud-based content collaboration supplier, a full report has been produced that provides insight into the costs of wasted time, how people share data and information, where the technology gaps are, and the major frustrations employees experience daily.

While there are very encouraging signs around flexible working and the positive impact collaborative content platforms have had on employees’ ability to do their jobs better, there are clear indicators that technology improvements need to be made and better training for staff is required to ensure they are happy and effective.

For instance, 79% of respondents felt their company was adopting new technology to enable them to work more effectively. Where the issues do tend to lie, is not the adoption, but the implementation – as 56% of that 79% still felt there was room for improvement.

Steve Jennings, managing director for Spherica, said: “We expected to see some real gaps in technology, and what this means in terms of time, but once you do the maths it’s staggering to see what the cost is to a typical SME.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about what this cost would mean to the UK economy as a whole but it’s certainly something that tends to go unnoticed as no one has to write a cheque for it.

“But by adopting collaborative content platforms and using them correctly, these costs are eliminated and efficiencies are driven back up.”

In addition, the survey highlighted the major frustrations employees’ experience, and the blockers to progress.

Time is money

The average amount of time wasted per employee is 1.04 hours per day, however 1 in 20 respondents claimed to waste between two and three hours. It appears there also some major blockers to workers not being able to manage their large files and data efficiently, and it’s not all the fault of technology.

In fact, 32% cited a lack of budget for such platforms as the greatest barrier compared with 30% who blamed it upon a lack of technology.

With 80% saying their company did in fact use a collaborative platform, such as Box, worryingly, almost a quarter of respondents, 23%, claimed their employer actually lacked a “visionary” approach to IT.

And it seems those people are having to overcome such issues by using email, 38%, and 11% of respondents are still relying upon USB sticks to share large files. One in ten said they were restricted because of “company policy”.

Adapting for a diverse workplace

The survey looked at the various locations in which people now work, and nowadays more than half, 55%, work in locations away from the office; with 28% working from home and 17% having a requirement to work “in the field”.

However, only 44% of mobile workers have the same access to file and data sharing, as they would back at the office. And, 34% of those found it difficult in practice to actually access data, and 7% have to operate with no access to files, or the ability to share data at all.

Jennings added: “IT has made the business world a much smaller place and we are seeing a more diverse workplace with employees working across various locations, from home and even on-the-go.

“The technology a company uses has to mirror it’s working model, but it’s astonishing that this isn’t necessarily the case and we advise our clients to adapt, or expect to see a negative impact as a result, with staff not being able to do their jobs effectively or moving to a competitor that will accommodate their needs.”

On the other hand

For those that do work in a progressive environment, the impact of modern digital working has been, on the whole, very positive. Almost half, 45%, believed it had saved them time and made them more efficient, 34% say it has helped them with flexible working patterns and almost a third, 29%, cited that it had given them an improved work life balance.

For some, however, there were still some irritations and 32% said their company was too slow to adapt new technology, 20% felt their IT department was too detached from their business and 14% were concerned competitors were stealing a march on them with better technology and systems in place.

Jennings felt that while a surge in digital content platforms in recent years has helped people to easily share files with third parties, and be more efficient, we aren’t as digital a nation as we’d like to think.

He said: “Outdated technology has no place in a progressive economy and the younger generation, who feed off consumer-led technology, will not put up with it. They’ll simply move on if they don’t gain the same level of experience at work.

“Today, employees need to be empowered to manage their work. The workplace has changed dramatically, not just in the technology that drives business, but also the people who now work for those businesses.

“There needs to be a seamless transition from their day-to-day consumer experience to the world of business and commerce. We need to instantly engage with them as they are the future of our businesses and the wider economy.”

A full report, “Disconnected Britain – A report into how collaborative content platforms are shaping digital transformation”, which dives further into the reasons given, impact and what our technology now looks like, can be found here

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