Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

The 71st UK Business Barometer Survey focused on organisational and environmental issues, as well as how businesses react to changes in government regulations.

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  • About the respondents

    161 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    26.7% 6.8% 66.5% 100.0%

    Turnover ()
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    72.7% 16.8% 10.5% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    59.6% 28.6% 5.6% 2.5% 3.7% 100.0%

  • Survey Findings

  • Time is a limiting factor for all business people. A number of courses are offered that purport to help with better management of time and a high proportion of respondents to the UK Business Barometer (UKBB) have attended such courses. An even higher proportion of respondents to the parallel survey, the UK Business Advisers Barometer (UKBAB) have attended:

    Have you ever attended a Time Management course?

  • When asked if the principles advocated in such courses were applied in practice, more respondents to the UKBAB than to the UKBB were routinely using them, with 14% rather than 4%. Similar results were obtained for the 'frequently' and 'sometimes' categories. Although this initially looks as though as though the courses may have little impact on working practices, focusing on the results from those who had been to the courses shows that they are indeed influential. When recalculated as percentages of only those who have attended the courses, UKBB respondents were ahead of UKBAB with 74% as opposed to 70% over the two categories taken together.

  • The general impression that the Internet is becoming more integrated into the process of doing business was backed up by the response to this months survey question on its use. Compared to a year ago when the same question was asked, there was an average increase of 14%, to 79%, in those who use it daily, with all other categories decreasing. The overall average use of the internet by UKBB respondents was very close to that of UKBAB respondents.

  • The paperless office may be an ideal goal especially in environmental terms but it seems that it is still some way off. 17% of UKBB and 14% of UKBAB respondents routinely feel the need to make hard copies, while 62% of UKBB and 75% of UKBAB say they frequently or sometimes need to make hard copies. However, 17% of UKBB and 11% of UKBAB respondents rarely do so, while 4% of UKBB respondents never do.

    Compared to a year ago there have been increases in the two upper intermediate categories of those who say that environmental sustainability issues are becoming an area of increasing concern, although those at both extremes are fewer proportionately. Compared with the responses from the UKBAB, who were asked whether this was becoming an area of concern for their clients, although the responses differ in detail the message is broadly similar - between 12% and 15% say concern is not increasing at all; between 3% and 6% say concern is increasing significantly, and the remaining 81%, excluding 'don't know's, fall in between the extremes.

    Smoking in the workplace has been recently been a hot topic following the January 2004 introduction in Ireland of the ban on smoking in any space which is also someone's workplace. However it appears that many respondents to both surveys are ahead of the game - nearly 90% of both UKBB and UKBAB respondents say that they do not allow smoking in the workplace.

    Do you allow smoking in the workplace?

  • As might be expected, given the responses to the previous question, both groups were very supportive of a general ban on smoking in the workplace. When it comes to monitoring staff time taken for cigarette breaks, the responses were more moderate, with 54% of UKBB, but 70% of UKBAB supporting.

    Four questions in the April Survey addressed issues surrounding changes in regulations affecting business. Businesses find change time consuming and therefore costly to cope with, and being aware of relevant changes is an issue. The first question was related to whether businesses actively seek out changes in government regulation. 49% of UKBB respondents do so to a high or moderately high extent.

    When it comes to whether businesses are responsible for ensuring they are up to date, only 55% of respondents think they are, to a high or moderately high extent. In contrast, 85% of UKBAB respondents said that it is business's responsibility to keep up to date.

    In terms of getting the information needed to keep up to date, the favourites were different between the two groups. Other Business Organisations was top for UKBB respondents, with Media second and Accountant third. Business Advisers were fifth on their list. Unsurprisingly, UKBAB respondents chose Business Advisers first. Second was the Internet and third, Media.

    The final question asked about the impressions of those in business themselves, or in the UKBAB survey, those advising businesses, about compliance with changes in government regulations by businesses generally. 65% of UKBB respondents and 74% of UKBAB respondents strongly, or relatively strongly, have the impression that many businesses, in practice, choose to ignore changes until forced to comply.

    Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey BB71 April 2004.

    Comments are listed under sector headings.

    Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those of the University.

    production & Manufacturing

    Tend to use different sources for different type of advice. Accountant for financial, solicitor for employment and other legal matters and CE Auditor for regulatory changes.

    Smoking is not allowed and no breaks are allowed, so no monitoring is necessary

    The CBI is a good source for business to be kept up to date with legislation, but not mentioned in your question.


    In practice almost everywhere is a workplace and I believe this (proposed smoking at work ban) is yet another tentacle of bureaucracy setting out to ensnare us all.

    Trade Associations are primary source for legislative updates

    Business Services

    I use a book on time Management, which I review whenever I have time.

    Although I am a strong advocate of the paperless office I do work for a large client, who are horrendous in terms of the amount of printing off and distributing that they do.