With 86% of small businesses overcoming technological issues during the lockdown to keep business as usual, what is the viability of continuing to work from home after the lockdown gets lifted.
This is one of the timely questions a new survey from Onecom asks from the 1,000 respondents made up of small and medium-sized business workers. By the way, all of the 1,000 people in the survey have been working from home because of the lockdown.
Overcoming Technological Issues to Keep Business as Usual
As the report says, managers are now mulling over the possibility of working full-time remotely. For many small businesses that are looking to cut costs, there is a serious discussion taking place. But this also means addressing the challenges of working in this manner.
Afterall the report says, “86% of the 1,000 SMEs surveyed in this report said they are still grappling with significant communications, team management or technology challenges just to maintain ‘business as usual’.” This includes everything from setting up video conferencing and new business mobile technology to sourcing new software, cybersecurity issues, employee management concerns and team morale.
The Challenges Moving Forward
Effective communication seems to be one of the biggest challenges. Half of the respondents say they find facilitating group calls or finding the right platforms a challenge. It only gets worse as 23% say they have issues with sending and receiving emails. The same amount (23%) also say dealing with the different communications platforms across multiple teams and organizations is a challenge.
When it comes to team management, communication is still an issue. Facilitating group meetings (27%) and managing employees remotely (27%) have the same level of frustration. And when management tries to lift the morale of their employees, 21% say working from home limits this ability.
On that note, 37% are communicating less, which becomes an issue with mental wellbeing. Managers, therefore, have to encourage more communication. And when they do communicate, 31% admit to experiencing more communication errors. The report attributes this to 93% of communication being non-verbal. And if there is no face to face, messages can get lost in translation without the right context.
Some of the other challenges the respondents highlight are broadband and hardware; new software; home-base interruptions and concerns with cybersecurity.
Even though these challenges are present, it is important to remember the majority are doing well.
The Positive Take
There was bound to be some growing pains when you throw all of your employee in a new workflow. However, in most instances, businesses and their workforce started to adapt and even thrive.
Although 67% of the respondents feel their productivity levels changed since working from home, 28% say it has increased while 28% say it has remained the same. So, for the majority (56%) the lockdown isn’t affecting productivity. The number is almost the same for motivation, with 25% saying it is up and staying the same for 29% with a total and majority of 54%.
Collaboration and communication, two key components in remote work is up. For 58% of the respondents it is either up or the same as it was previously. Whether it is the loneliness or other factors, employees are making more of an effort to reach out and work together on projects.
More managers (3 in 5) also feel confident about organizing teams remotely. In the survey, 59% of managers say they feel just as or more able to manage reports and colleague relationships.
Other positives include 73% of employees state their ability to solve complex problems is the same or better. And 66% of companies also report their negotiating ability is the same or better.
Who is Working from Home?
The next obvious question is what industries are able to work from home? Because not all businesses are set up to take advantage of the digital infrastructure that is in place for remote work. So, it is not at all surprising only 4% work in transport/logistics and 1.2% in the food industry.
The lockdown will undoubtedly make small business owners reassess their digital capability and find out ways how they can take advantage of the available technology. While many industries will not be able to move their entire workforce for remote work, there is room to adapt for some of your employees.
No matter where your company is in that spectrum, understanding the best way to work from home will better prepare your business in the future.
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