Form-filling costs UK business £104 billion a year

Form filling

Red tape is costing British businesses 104 billion each year, said cloud computing migration firm Keboko in a report.

The research among more than 1,000 UK businesspeople revealed that the average UK worker was deskbound for 37 days this year carrying out basic administrative tasks. Creating reports, inputting data, filing expenses, updating timesheets, book-keeping, timesheets, invoicing and billing were the tasks that had to be attended to.

The study discovered that workers felt their time would be better spent focusing on new business activities. The majority of the people polled said it would add more value if they could devote more of their working week to meeting prospective clients, promoting the businesses they work for and supporting existing clients.

The chief complaint from 18 per cent of the contributors is that over six hours a week was spent on data entry, making it the most time-consuming administrative task. Scots were found to spend most time inputting data, dedicating half an hour more than the UK average of two hours and 18 minutes.

Commenting on the research, Charlie Cowan, chief executive of Keboko, said, "With Britain starting to emerge from the global recession, you'd expect most companies to be hard at work trying to generate new business. However, many workers struggle to find time to do this, as non-core tasks, such as inputting data and updating reports, still take up too much time. It's costing UK businesses a fortune, with the money essentially going down the drain."

Keboko officially announced the results of the report today. The point of its research is that cloud computing services can increase staff productivity when they are away from their desks. Most of this red tape is what binds a business together, but mobile working would save them from returning to base to fill in forms.

"Companies can't afford for staff to spend such a large amount of time on non-billable activities. A lot of the time workers are being held back by a lack of tools to help them get admin tasks done quickly and efficiently," Cowan added.

A fortnight of the year was spent filing expenses, invoicing clients and bookkeeping, the report stated. "Staff could reduce the amount of 'dead time' spent travelling to and from meetings by updating reports wirelessly whilst on the go. In some cases, tasks could even be performed automatically," Cowan concluded.