Singapore office workers least productive among 11 countries polled

People crossing the road near Lau Pa Sat at Shenton Way.
People crossing the road near Lau Pa Sat at Shenton Way.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Office workers pass a UOB bank branch in Singapore's central business district on April 27, 2017.
Office workers pass a UOB bank branch in Singapore's central business district on April 27, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Office workers in Singapore are the least productive among 11 countries polled by enterprise software firm Unit4.

The study found that Singapore workers spend only 60 per cent of their time on their main work duties, compared with a poll average of 72 per cent.

Roughly 380 hours a year are spent on completing administrative or repetitive tasks. This is equivalent to 47.5 work days or two months of the working year.

This loss of productivity is costing the Singapore service industry more than S$36.5 billion annually, said Unit4.

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Its survey comes amid studies that show labour productivity in Singapore is decreasing due to significant challenges from structural transformation and ageing demographics.

Singapore office workers said the specific daily administrative tasks that prevent them from focusing on their primary duties include manually collating and entering data, tracking their project status, handling invoices as well as submitting their expenses and planning travel.

Unit4 said technological advancements such as a digital assistant or software application will help employees manage repetitive tasks and allow them to spend their time on value-added services.

This, in turn, will boost workforce productivity and contribute to the growth of Singapore's GDP.

The firm surveyed around 1,500 office employees in the service sector from 11 countries:  the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

On average, respondents aged 41 and above estimate they spend significantly more time on their primary duties compared to those aged 26 to 30.

The cost to the service industry in lost productivity due to excessive administration is more than US$2.87 trillion (S$3.95 trillion) annually for the 11 countries surveyed.