Australian office workers are spending 636 hours per year completing administrative or repetitive tasks; the equivalent to 80 work days or roughly one third of the working year, according to a global survey commissioned by Unit4, world leader in enterprise systems for services organisations. The findings are part of an independent multi-national research study into global productivity and the time office workers spend on primary work.
The figures revealed Australian workers lost more time to administration than their global counterparts. Across all 11 countries in this study, office workers spend an average of 552 hours a year (69 days) completing administrative or repetitive tasks; the equivalent to roughly one-quarter of the working year.
Worryingly, the survey estimated the cost of this lost productivity to the service industry in Australia is more than AUD$ 300 billion annually, ranking Australia fifth in terms of most costly productivity loss. Considering the global figures, the total combined cost of lost productivity is more than AUD$6.5 trillion all together annually.
Most striking are the differences between generations. Professionals over 41 spend more time on primary responsibilities than those between 26 and 30. At the same time, people over 50 spend the longest collating and entering data. Despite this, workers aged between 26 to 35 say they support automation more than those aged 36-40 and 56-60, and younger professionals are more likely to think it will improve their happiness. They are confident this technology will be available soon (even within a year).
When asked if they would trust technology – such as a digital / virtual assistant or software application – to manage repetitive tasks, around 9 in 10 workers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands said they would, while fewer than three quarters of respondents in Germany and Australia said the same. Two-thirds (67 percent) agreed that implementing this type of technology would be important to remain competitive. The 26-40 age group is significantly more likely to think this than those over 56, and those with management responsibility are also more likely to agree.
More than 80 percent of Australian workers say they would trust technology to manage their administrative tasks, with 67 percent agreeing that automating repetitive and administrative tasks would help them increase their productivity
“Unit4 strives to make software self-driving to unburden the services industry. We commissioned the research to understand the views of workers, like those employed by customers, on how adopting new technology to help automate non-value add tasks, could help them be more productive,” said Stephan Sieber, CEO of Unit4.
“To compete effectively for talent in the future, service organisations will need to make systems automated and self-driving to boost productivity, but also help younger workers to better engage at work by delivering them a similar experience to what they are used to. This will help them to feel they are spending their time on the right things, on their primary work and being effective. Left unchanged, the situation could be crippling for business, particularly services organisations which rely on the strengths and output of their people.”
The survey was conducted by DJS Research in April/May 2017 among office based employees in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The findings are based on responses from almost 1,505 employees with at least 100 staff members, and with at least 100 responses from each country, (400 in the US). An infographic is also available here
 Total hours spent on admin x people working in service industries as a percentage of total working population (OECD) x average hourly wage (World Bank).