New data suggests small and medium-sized businesses need to think about how they’ll handle their workforce amidst a cost-of-living crisis.
A new survey amongst small and medium-sized business has shown that despite the cost of living crisis pushing employees back into office, almost six in ten SMEs say they prefer a hybrid style of working.
PRISM’s SME Barometer polled 2,000 small and medium-sized businesses and the report showed some workforces may never properly ‘go back to the office’ in the wake of the pandemic. There are around 5.6m SMEs in the UK.
However, it also said, “Our research shows that SMEs are being caught in the crosswinds and will need to become even more agile not only for their survival short-term, but also so that they can be ready for their future growth”.
Much of this agility could stem from a careful adoption of hybrid working – allowing employees to split their time between home and the office. However, such flexibility for an SME may come at an expense for the average employee.
Unfortunately, while many employees are keen to work from home increased living costs may force them to seek cheaper daily expenses at the office.
PRISM’s SME Barometer further suggests an inability to safeguard SMEs has powerful consequences on the wider economy – with a thriving SME sector able to wrench a nation out of a recession.
The survey found almost six in ten SMEs say they are prioritising digital transformation, while just over half of all businesses said they felt optimistic their organisation would be able to handle IT issues while building a new digital climate. Many businesses were forced to speed up their digitisation process after COVID forced firms to work remotely.
Over 70% of SMEs said advantages, such as lower costs and boosted revenue, which digitalisation can deliver in the next half a decade, allows them to capture high-margin business via enhanced insights into customer behaviour through data analytics. It also requires government to address the geographical inequities around investment and infrastructure.
Nick King, Head of Business Policy at the Centre for Policy Studies, said, “Whether this is achieved through devolution, infrastructure investment, a revamped approach to skills and education or the introduction of new business-friendly ‘Opportunity Zones’, the only way to close the gap and to bring about economic growth around the country is by giving the private sector every reason to invest and operate in those parts of our country that need investment most.”