Five predictions for SMEs in 2021

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No one could have predicted the unprecedented disruption of 2020. The world of work has gone through immense change, with lockdowns forcing remote working and accelerating digital transformation. Amid all the volatility and uncertainty, what can we expect for SMEs in 2021? Here’s what we see in our crystal ball.

1. Increase in “hybrid” working

In 2021 we expect to see more organisations adopting the new hybrid work model, which redefines what working means. Work isn’t a place, it’s what you do. As we move to the hybrid working model, work is no longer defined by how many hours you’re tied to your desk, but instead focuses on outcome-based working. This means the hours we work, where we are located and who we meet are only relevant in pursuit of results.

2. Enhanced collaboration

With more businesses adopting the hybrid working model, 2021 will have a big focus on optimising productivity through collaboration. Businesses of all sizes will transform their physical environments to allow for increased collaboration, such as increasing the number and size of huddle rooms. We’ll also see the rise of new digital collaboration and teleconferencing tools.

However, with no clear division between home and office, boundaries will blur. Leaders will need to ensure that remote employees can switch off, take breaks, and don’t feel pressured to answer communications sent late at night.

3. A shift in commercial office space

With larger numbers of employees expected to continue working away from the office in 2021, commercial real estate will face some interesting challenges. With a reduced headcount on-site, companies will likely want to downsize their building commitments, leasing less square meterage than before. Some SMEs may even switch from leasing dedicated premises to workspaces that allow for more flexibility and cost-efficiency.

At the same time, workspaces will need to be upgraded with technology that allows for seamless collaboration with remote staff. Technology investment will be expanded to create consistent, enterprise-grade experiences for every worker, whether they are at home, in a co-working location or in a company office.

4. Bigger demand for IT support services

With a workforce split amongst multiple locations, SMEs will be looking for tech providers who offer more than just hardware or software. As many smaller companies don’t have dedicated IT departments, solutions providers will also need to offer support services. No business can afford downtime due to tech glitches. They need business-critical support that will rapidly diagnose issues and have them resolved quickly.

5. Teleconferencing-as-a-service arrives

Just as with software and hardware, the As-a-Service model will take of in new areas, including teleconferencing hardware. Just as how Infrastructure-as-a-service enables smaller companies to access the same advanced technology as large organisations, Teleconferencing-as-a-service will give SMEs access to enterprise-grade communications hardware, enabling them to invest in the highest quality equipment and create the best experience for employees.

Andy Hurt, Managing Director ANZ, Poly