UK businesses split on benefits of remote working
- 81% of SMEs have adopted remote or hybrid working, and almost half say it was positive
- Leaders of medium-sized organisations are most likely to favour remote working
- Older bosses and those in the West of the UK were least convinced about the benefits
Beaming’s study reveals that four in every five (81%) UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have now embraced some form of remote or hybrid working model, but bosses are split on whether it has been good for business.
Beaming’s research, which involved interviews with 500 senior leaders at companies employing up to 250 people, indicates that almost half (45%) of SMEs now practice fully remote working, with colleagues working entirely in separate locations. More than a third (36%) have a hybrid working approach and one in five (19%) requires all employees to be in the office all of the time.
Beaming’s study also asked bosses to score the impact of remote working across various factors. It found that, on average, nearly half (43%) of businesses allowing remote working reported positive outcomes, with greater productivity (47%) and lower costs (45%) the most frequently cited benefits.
However, more than a third (34%) of leaders said they had not seen any change from remote working, and almost a quarter (23%) said it had been bad for business. 24% of respondents said productivity had declined due to remote working, and the same percentage said it had increased costs.
Leaders of medium-sized organisations were more likely to favour remote working arrangements. Looking across all of the factors considered, 57% of bosses at companies employing more than 50 people were positive about remote working, citing easier recruitment (62%), improved productivity (60%) and cost reductions (57%) as the significant benefits. This compared to 38% of micro and 45% of small businesses.
Beaming’s study also revealed significant differences in opinion on remote working when it came to the age, gender and location of business leaders:
- Younger leaders were significantly more optimistic about remote working than their older counterparts. 55% of leaders aged between 18 and 34 said remote working was good for business, compared to 41% of 35 to 54-year-olds and just 26% of those 55 and older.
- Male leaders were more likely to favour remote working than female leaders. 45% of men questioned said it had been good for their businesses, compared to 39% of women.
- Curiously, there seems to be an East versus West divide in opinion. Leaders in the North East (59% positive) and East of England (53%), London (53%), and Yorkshire and the Humber (43%) were more likely to speak positively about remote working than those in the North West (41%), South West (34%) and Wales (23%). The proportion of leaders in the East Midlands (41%) that were positive about remote working was almost double the West Midlands (22%).
Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director at Beaming, commented: “Our study shows most SMEs have adopted some form of remote or hybrid working, but bosses are split on whether this has been good for business overall. It seems most leaders are still getting used to this major change in working conditions and the additional managerial and technological challenges it places on them.”
Download your free copy of Beaming’s Report: Making the cloud work for UK businesses:
The report contains insights and useful guides, including:
- IT trends in UK businesses – results from our survey of UK business leaders
- 4-step guide: How businesses can reap the full benefits of cloud working
- The cost of cloud: Facts and figures
- What are SMEs doing about the creeping cost of cloud?
- How can businesses get their cloud spending under control?
- 5 step guide: Reviewing your cloud costs
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