Unsung heroes of the office are worth £525 million a year to UK SMEs

Trainline for Business has revealed that the unsung heroes of the workplace, or ‘Office Oracles’, who book business travel, fix printers, and manage the conference call system, are worth £525 million annually to SMEs, with those working within the technology sector worth the most.

Every SME has one; the go-to team member who books business travel, fixes the printer, navigates the post room and aces the conference call system, and new research from Trainline for Business reveals that these unsung heroes of the workplace, or ‘Office Oracles’, are worth £525 million annually to SMEs, with those working within the technology sector worth the most.

With Office Oracles frequently coming to the rescue of their colleagues, the research revealed that on average, Oracles complete 16 key tasks per day and spend over three hours and 35 minutes per week assisting their co-workers.

Tech talks

Having the right technology in place has a positive impact on efficiency, with many Office Oracles (86 per cent) agreeing that desktop-based tools and apps help them to streamline their daily workload, saving them up to nine and a half hours per week.

Secrets of success

They say the best things in life are free, and three quarters (75 per cent) of Office Oracles claim they are more likely to work harder if they receive praise, acknowledgement or a simple ‘thanks’ for their efforts from co-workers or senior colleagues – more so than being gifted with vouchers (20 per cent).

Business travel

When booking rail travel for colleagues, managing last minute changes was revealed to be the biggest pain point for Office Oracles (25 per cent), followed by the complexity of booking for multiple people (22 per cent).

Having an efficient travel booking platform (19 per cent), smart interface to manage travel plans for multiple employees (17%) and simplified way to track spend (16 per cent) are the key ways in which booking travel would be made easier and more efficient.

Ananth Ramanathan, head of business accounts at Trainline says, ‘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.

‘Smart solutions help complete tasks like booking business rail travel more efficiently, driving huge time and cost savings for SMEs. In July, our SME clients saved, on average, £215 by advance booking their travel using our tool, potentially an annual saving of £2,580 per year – money that could be used to recognise employees, exhibit at a relevant trade show or even put towards the Christmas party!’

Polly Hadden-Paton, founder of You Need a PA, adds, ‘When I first started working in London, I had to learn pretty quickly how to be a chameleon and juggle varying requests, ensuring my boss’ day to day life ran smoothly, without glitches. The influence of technology is so boundless and 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.’

Trainline for Business has a free desktop platform for SMEs to streamline the booking and management of business rail travel. The dashboard makes it easy for bookers to compare and book multiple tickets, add and manage employees and set up a centralised payment system for visibility of all business rail travel in one place. Smart reporting tools support ongoing management of rail spend and helps SMEs benefit from average savings of 33 per cent for journeys booked in advance.

Further reading on unsung heroes

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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