For small and mid-size businesses, embracing remote work hasn't been easy. The COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that the ability to work remotely wasn't just a perk but a necessity. Businesses have added new technology that allows staff to work from wherever and whenever to meet their business's needs during the pandemic. As employees get vaccinated and cases fall back, many companies are moving towards a hybrid approach - offering the option for some remote work but not fully committing. Our partners at Intermedia surveyed 250 small and mid-size business owners and decision-makers to learn how they have adapted to remote work and what role it will play in their company post-pandemic.
Rushing Back to the Office? Not So Fast!
Early findings from the Intermedia report reveal that many SMB owners increased remote work due to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing. More than half (57%) said they would likely maintain increased remote working options for employees in the long-term. This is a shift in the way companies operate and how employees and customers engage with one another. The most significant benefits of the remote work shift include employee availability (up 19%) and life satisfaction (up 7%), while overhead costs have gone down.
The study's respondents offered some insightful, real-world examples with comments like "workers attitudes have improved" and employees are "happier and more productive." The shelter-in-place period was stressful for everyone. But employees indicated a reduction in stress due to no longer dealing with pressures around commuting, time away from family and the costs associated with being in a physical location. Happier workers result in a more engaged workforce and employees who are ready to make a difference.
In-Person Meetings are Important, But Video Conferencing Keeps Us Connected
One of the biggest concerns of business owners was engaging with new prospects and serving existing ones while COVID restrictions were in place. 94% of respondents said in-person interactions are essential to conducting new business. In comparison, 72% said that the current limits on face-to-face meetings would play a significant role in their team's ability to handle business as usual. However, technology wasn't cited as a top concern, implying that getting the right tools deployed to keep their business running was not a barrier.
Survey findings indicate that companies turn to technology to help deliver face-to-face interactions once reserved for in-person meetings. Before the pandemic, 57% of the survey respondents indicated a reliance on video conferencing. That reliance has jumped to 84% - a 27% increase, the most significant jump across all communication channels covered in the survey (this includes telephone, email, chat and others).
Remote Work Isn't Just All That New
Over the past several years, more companies have been dipping their toe in the remote work pool. The reasons include a larger pool of talented candidates for open positions and reduced running physical office costs. Many employees are looking for a more flexible way of life that allows for a positive work/home balance. They want the option to work in other places outside of the office. With the technology we currently offer at Fraser, we can provide a stable foundation for employees to work wherever they are with easy accessibility, meaningful collaboration and robust security.
While the COVID pandemic has forced all companies to examine the concept of work, we have learned that employees can work outside of the office without sacrificing productivity. More business owners and leaders realize that employee availability and job satisfaction can remain high, if not increase, within a remote working environment. The Intermedia survey findings indicate the trend toward remote work will stay in place well after the pandemic ends.
Fraser Advanced Information Systems offers businesses a full portfolio of unified communications tools, including cloud-based phones, chat, text, video conferencing and more. Learn how a unified communications strategy can help your business not only survive but thrive through the pandemic and well into the future.