How the cloud and automation are helping SMEs support workplace flexibility


Workplace flexibility spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increasingly adopting cloud-based tools that support new hybrid working models to accommodate a blend of remote and office-based employees.

SMEs are using cloud-based solutions to save money, improve business agility and enhance workplace flexibility, which includes offering staggered work hours and work-from-home options for employees.

A recent survey of 2000 office workers in 10 countries showed that most employees wanted to work remotely over two days a week on average, with survey respondents saying a good work-life balance was now more important than securing a comfortable salary.

Employee experience remains crucial for SMEs looking to attract and retain the best talent. However, productivity and cost are key challenges. Therefore, SMEs are turning to automation through secure, online tools that effectively address the needs of the hybrid workplace.

Today 38 per cent of Australian companies with fewer than 1000 employees are automating key components of their expense report management processes, with pressure coming from the need to eliminate manual workflows and improve remote capabilities around invoice capture, processing, approval, and payment. And 50 per cent of Australia’s best-in-class companies are now more likely to have mobile apps and integrated cloud-based solutions to improve the employee experience with administrative processes.

There is a direct correlation between administrative processes and employee satisfaction. However, most organisations don’t offer the automation capabilities required to deliver an employee experience that supports workplace satisfaction.

To help employees be more productive, comply with company policies and focus on strategic, profit-making tasks, organisations must make their systems conducive to hybrid work that has become the predominant workplace model in 2021.

This means that businesses need to build more flexibility into their processes through secure, online applications that automate manual processes while helping the organisation achieve greater visibility and control overspending. In turn, this generates cost savings, which can be reallocated to areas of the business that will drive sustainable, long-term recovery and growth.

Fabian Calle, Managing Director – SMB, SAP Concur ANZ