Working from home for SMEs

Modern technology has now reached the point at which working remotely is not only feasible, but also relatively cheap and accessible. So why haven’t more small and medium sized businesses adopted such technology and moved away from the confines of the traditional office space?

Whilst many bigger businesses have fully embraced the benefits of mobile technology and remote working opportunities, SMEs still lag behind, despite there being obvious benefits to the tech.

A recent study from Steelcase has shown that only half of all workplaces in the UK are set up to make the most of remote working, with 77% of employees having access to a desktop and only 39% using a laptop. When it comes to phones, the figures are even more shocking. Just 38% of employees have a dedicated work mobile, compared to 91% who use a landline at work. Not only do these figures highlight the fact that many businesses have been incredibly slow to adopt mobile technology, but they also indicate a certain reluctance amongst many companies to let their employees begin working away from the office.

These figures may come as a surprise considering the amount of research concluding that remote working could have a drastic positive effect on the UK economy and has increased productivity amongst those employees using it. It is estimated that greater adoption of remote working technologies could generate an extra £11.5 billion year for the economy, whilst studies have shown that the most engaged workers are those that feel they have control over their work lives.

Interestingly, SMEs are considered best placed to take advantage of remote working technology. Small, flexible and often built around less rigid organisational structures, SMEs are the perfect environment for remote working and should be making the most of the opportunities at hand. With less employees, the cost of rolling out new technologies across an entire business is much lower and the move could allow some smaller companies to cut down on overheads by reducing bills, downsizing office space and making many tasks more streamlined and efficient.

So why haven’t many SMEs adopted the technology? While there is no perfect answer, in many cases it comes down to preconceived notions concerning technology and the time, effort and expertise it takes to set up. Many managers also have reservations about moving away from the traditional office space where it is easy to keep a watchful eye over staff, though this micro-management attitude may soon be a thing of the past as more businesses recognise the advantages of remote working.

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