Home Business NewsBusiness Unsung heroes or ‘office oracles’ are worth £525m to UK SMEs

Unsung heroes or ‘office oracles’ are worth £525m to UK SMEs

16th Aug 17 3:20 pm

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 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 £525m annually to SMEs, with those working within the technology sector worth the most.

  • Tech tools help to streamline workload for 86 per cent of Office Oracles, saving them 9 hours per week
  • A simple “thank you” is a more valuable form of reward / recognition than a gift voucher
  • Last month (July 2017) the Trainline for Business SME booking tool helped SMEs save a collective £1.7m and two hours of time for Office Oracles, per week

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.

Top Office Oracle tasks Time spent per day assisting colleagues
1. Creating graphs and animations in presentations 1h 49 mins
2. Assistant with formulas and graphs in spreadsheets 1h 42 mins
3. Sending parcels via courier or office postal system 1h 24 mins
4. Transferring calls 56 mins
5. Organising networking events 55 mins
6. Helping colleagues manage their diaries and inboxes 48 mins
7. Setting up conference call software 47 mins
8. Booking business travel for colleagues 46 mins
9. Filling out purchase orders 45 mins
10. Changing toner or replacing ink cartridges in the printer 44 mins


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. 


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). 


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 per cent) 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 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.

“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, You Need a PA said: “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.

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