"Unsung heroes" worth millions to UK small firms

30 August 2017

"Unsung heroes" worth millions to UK small firmsOffice fixers - who sort out everything from travel to technology - are worth £525 million to UK small businesses, according to new research.

A survey by Trainline for Business has highlighted the number of tasks that so-called "office oracles" typically undertake. On average, they complete 16 key tasks per day and spend over three hours and 35 minutes per week helping their co-workers.

These employees do everything from booking business travel to fixing the printer. The most time-consuming tasks are:

  • helping colleagues with presentations;
  • assisting with spreadsheets;
  • sending parcels and post;
  • transferring calls;
  • organising networking events;
  • helping colleagues manage their diaries and inboxes;
  • setting up conference call software;
  • booking business travel.

When booking rail travel for colleagues, managing last minute change was cited as the biggest pain point (for 25% of those polled), followed by the complexity of booking for multiple people (22%).

However, 86% of survey respondents reported that desktop-based tools and apps have helped them to streamline their workload, saving them nine and a half hours per week.

Polly Hadden-Paton, founder of You Need a PA, said: "The influence of technology… has transformed how I work, helping to streamline my workload, saving me hours every week. I'm constantly looking for new, innovative and exciting tools to streamline my day-to-day workload."

The survey also shows that three-quarters of office oracles say they are more likely to work harder if they receive praise or a simple "thanks" for their efforts from co-workers or senior colleagues - more so than being gifted with vouchers (20%).

Ananth Ramanathan, head of business accounts at Trainline, said: "Office oracles go above and beyond to help their SMEs run efficiently, and our research highlights the need for businesses to both champion them and give access to the tools they need to be more effective."