Employees are losing hundreds of hours to old-school ways of working

A new report from Adobe has revealed the extent of the impact of inefficient work practices on UK businesses.

Based on a survey of 1,500 employees, the report states that despite the shift towards hybrid working and online collaboration, many large firms are failing to adapt their operations to meet new ways of operating. 

With a continued reliance on paper-based practices, Adobe says the slow evolution of the digital workplace is impacting three core areas: costs, productivity, and sustainability.

Tax on productivity 

Examining employee attitudes and beliefs at large UK organizations, Adobe found that they collectively lose more than 28 days each year on “low-value paperwork”. This includes time-consuming activities like printing, scanning, stapling, and manually signing documents rather than using esign software.

Of those surveyed, employees in financial services lose the most to time-consuming manual processes, wasting a full 43 days each year. Public sector workers, meanwhile, proved most productive, losing just 22 days annually. 

Paper-based practices are also proving a drain on office costs. The Acrobat DC developer revealed that printing alone costs businesses an estimated £490 per employee.

However, some UK firms are attempting to rein in printer use, as part of push towards greener business processes. Of the employees surveyed, 34% said printer access has been restricted, 31% report restrictions on accessing stationery, while 25% say their company’s stationery cupboard has been entirely removed. 10% even told of businesses rationing paper use. 

Worryingly, 27% felt sustainability wasn’t a top priority for their employer, while 31% were unclear whether their company even had a sustainability strategy in the first place. 

But it’s not all bad news. The vast majority (83%) of employees said hybrid working has helped improve sustainability practices. More than half (57%) also agreed that increased sustainability goals are helping attract new talent and 33% believe these goals improve the workplace culture overall.

“The move to hybrid working for many people has welcomed a greater focus and move to sustainable ways of working, which is a positive shift for everyone and the environment,” said Louise Watkins, Head of Digital Media Enterprise at Adobe.

“However, through our research we can see there are some simple steps around the digitisation of workflows and processes that can help businesses and their employees further their efforts. Not only will this minimize the impact on the environment, but it also can boost productivity and save costs – a win-win for everyone.” 

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