Remote working is on the rise – undoubtedly. In large part, this is thanks to the emerging technologies that facilitate connectivity from anywhere, but it’s also a product of the way in which workplace cultures are evolving in tandem with this technology shift. With 16.1 million people employed in SMEs in the UK (which accounts for 60% of all private sector employment), businesses have little choice but to respond to the changing ways in which employees want and expect to be able to work, along with the blurring lines of work/life balance.
All of this means that many workplaces now offer a degree of flexibility via remote working or ‘work from home’ policies, whereby employees can be away from the office for part (or, in some cases, all) of their working week. According to one report, it’s thought that at least 38% of permanent staff will be predominantly remote workers within the next decade. So, as the amount of time people spend in the office goes down, one thing’s for sure: the need to have the right communications tools in place for workers to keep in touch with each other and with customers goes up.
Remote working: good news for SMEs?
If there’s one thing SMEs don’t always have, it’s lots of time and money. For this reason, having more staff working remotely could actually work out well for SMEs, as it could translate to needing less office space, which might pave the way for a key cost saving. What’s more, having your staff away from the office doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be any less connected or productive. The technology is out there to help staff keep in touch and do their jobs just as effectively (if not more) than they would if they were tied to their desks in the office – from Monday to Friday, nine to five.
The other thing SMEs are less likely to have than larger businesses is a dedicated IT team on hand to help with the rolling out of new IT initiatives. But the good news is that a mobility strategy couldn’t be easier to execute. With a converged, cloud-based solution, any mobile device can be simply connected via app-based software, meaning staff instantly have mobile access to all the features you’d usually associate with traditional office phones – like call recording, extension numbers, synced voicemail services, and so on.
This kind of mobile communications solution boosts both staff productivity and satisfaction, as they can work totally effectively from home, on the go, or even from their favourite coffee shop. And as an added bonus, an SME mobility strategy can also make engagements with customers and prospects more effective, too, as staff can be more responsive more of the time – which engenders a greater degree of service, satisfaction and loyalty.
Get mobile, start thriving
In Gamma’s latest report on what it means to be a business that’s simply surviving versus a business that’s really thriving, mobility was found to be one key factor separating the two camps. This is because, when it comes to the kind of things that support success, thriving businesses tend to be found focusing on higher-level issues like mobility, along with others like security and analytics. Meanwhile, businesses that are just surviving, not thriving, tend to be found focusing on simply getting the basics right across telecoms, data services and infrastructure.
The lesson here for SMEs is to carefully consider the end goal when investing in new IT solutions. To really get the best out of IT investments, SMEs should think about what they want the outcomes of technology adoption to be. For example, do they want to make it easier for employees to work remotely but still be productive? Do they want to improve customer service – and would a mobile communications strategy help to facilitate that? Focusing on questions like these will help SMEs to ensure that they adopt the best strategies for their business – and to start truly thriving in the digital age.
Adapted from 'How mobile communications are helping SMEs to thrive', written by Neil Taylor and originally posted to the official site of Gamma.