Many SMEs to continue remote operations beyond lockdown

More than one million small businesses across Australia are expected to continue operating remotely after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

This was the information gleaned from the recent research conducted by global technology platform Zoho, which prepared the Remote Working Revolution report, together with Telsyte.

The research – carried out by technology platform Zoho in conjunction with Telstye – found that 32 per cent of small businesses already preferred to work remotely before the pandemic hit. It also reveals that a further 18 per cent of small businesses are keen to make the shift towards remote work in the future, in the wake of realising its benefits during current lockdown restrictions.

With connectivity, cost, and accessibility of cloud technology improving across Australia, Zoho predicts the number of businesses making that online shift will increase further.

“The nature of work will change forever as the number of businesses deciding to work remotely and from home will skyrocket, even after lockdowns and social distancing restrictions are lifted,” Vijay Sundaram, Zoho’s Chief Strategy Officer, said. “If there’s one thing business owners and workers are understanding in the wake of COVID-19, it’s that a job is something you do rather than somewhere you go.”

Sundaram added, “Digital transformation of work has traditionally been the domain of big business, but in recent months technology has helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses pivot their operations and workforce. For example, we recently launched Remotely — a set of 11 free apps to help businesses operate remotely — and the uptake was significant, with 15,000 new companies across the world signing up in the first few weeks alone.”

Sundaram said that the pandemic has become an unwitting global laboratory for models of work that could have otherwise taken decades to unfold. This will upturn norms that have been accepted for generations. He believes that relentless innovation in affordable technology will put remote work within the reach of every company, lowering costs and creating new agility.

“Employee results, rather than physical presence or close monitoring, will become the sole measure of performance across industries, as employers change traditional mindsets,” Sundaram said. “Business travel, events and meetings will all reduce significantly both due to employee reluctance and from the realisation that their value might have been overestimated. The benefits of remote work are not just for the short-term, but the long-term too.”

While most businesses recognise the advantages of remote work, some aspects such as employee management, connectivity, and security make such a transition quite challenging for some businesses. This is especially so for non-metro businesses (66 per cent) compared to their metro counterparts (48 per cent).

Despite the challenges, many business owners are pushing on with the shift. One business owner, Peter McCarthy, founder of wealth platform myprosperity, said, “While there may be a drawback for some, in terms of missing the office culture and the camaraderie of being together as a team, we can function just as effectively at home. Our team has embraced the change, and there has been no direct downside to operating remotely so the positives far outweigh the negatives.”

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