September 24, 2020
Even before the rise of COVID-19, the reality of remote working was one that grew closer and closer on the horizon. With the arrival of the worldwide web, many businesses chose to expand their workforces by allowing employees to work from nearly anywhere on the globe – as long as they had an internet connection, of course. Some tech industries already lend well to this change in gear, such as managed IT support firms and social media giants.
Such a reality was fast-forwarded at the beginning of the year. To stop the spread of COVID-19, the UK government suggested for businesses to shut down their physical locations, and instead work from home. While such a move was startling for most involved, we now know where companies stand in response to these changes thanks to research done by Hitachi Capital.
A Positive Introduction
When SME businesses began their shift to remote work, 52% of SME businesses in the UK carried a positive outlook regarding the crucial adjustment. Businesses in London, by contrast, were far more supportive with 75% of owners holding positive views. Sphere IT an IT firm in London was amongst those with favorable feelings, as the director stated it was a “necessary change to ensure both the safety of all, and the success of the company.”
Now, weeks after businesses worldwide incorporated remote work into their operations, some of these statistics have shifted – fortunately, for the better. 75% of UK SME businesses now feel that having employees working from home is a positive thing, which is quite the improvement compared to only half prior. Businesses in London saw a similar increase, with 91% of SME owners believing that the introduction of remote working is justifiable. There was no report of any businesses with pessimistic attitudes towards the transition.
Businesses Have Changed Their Outlook
Hitachi Capital’s research is proof that a majority of SME businesses have no issue with remote working. Still, a look at the past reveals these positive feelings weren’t prevalent before COVID-19. In fact, many had concerns about such a switch, with 12% worried about costs for establishing a remote workforce, 7% anxious about business logistics, and 6% uneasy about how they could successfully maintain excellent customer service.
Compared to the 81% who now believe working from home will actually contribute to their business’ success, it’s clear the tides have changed. With the availability of professional IT companies, 83% of SME owners even report having an interest in permanently implementing remote work into their operations from here on out.
Benefits Garnered from Remote Work
The research also reveals the benefits – most of which were unexpected – businesses have enjoyed as a result of working from home. On the employers’ side, SME owners note that they now have the opportunity to acquire new technologies, improve their business IT systems, and make new investments that will provide vital support for the future.
Employees also enjoy a few new perks of their own. Work-life balances have significantly improved, and relationships between employees and employers have flourished on account of this shared experience. Ultimately, the resilience of businesses in the UK proves that workers can trust their employers.
Office Culture Is Still Alive
Online tools have allowed colleagues to remain in touch with each other, even if only through a screen. 45% of SME businesses in London are interested in, or already implemented, virtual events to keep teams together through Zoom, Skype, and other applications. Another 42% encourage employees to maintain consistent communication online to maintain successful collaboration.
The Future Remains Bright
Despite such a drastic change, UK businesses have proven themselves to be flexible and prepared for what’s to come. By maintaining their IT systems, there is no question that employees and employers will both see success amidst a changing market – even once COVID-19 no longer poses a threat.
Michael Collins is the director of Sphere IT – one of London’s leading managed IT support providers. He has experience from working within the IT industry for the past 20 years and enjoys writing news and informative articles relating to technology.