Small businesses adopting smart working

The UK leads the world in the percentage of SMES which have policies for employees who use their own devices for work, according to new research.

The YouGov study, sponsored by Citrix, shows 34% of small businesses in the UK have BYOD policies, compared to an average of 32% for Europe and 26% for the US. However, North America and Australia have seen more efficiency gains through mobile working than their European counterparts. Almost one in five small businesses in the US, Canada and Australia are achieving productivity gains of more than 30% by adopting mobile workforces, enabling people to work whenever, wherever and however they choose.  This compares to just 8% in Europe.

The research also suggests that number may be rising, as 34% of small businesses globally say they are under more pressure to introduce or increase mobile/flexible work practices than they were five years ago.

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The survey consisted of 1,250 small businesses across Europe, North America and Australia.

“It’s great to see a ‘work anywhere, with anyone’ environment delivering such big improvements in productivity, most obviously in North America and Australia, and that the demand for flexible work continues to grow,” says Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager, Online Services division at Citrix. “However, it’s a concern that two-thirds of businesses overall still don’t have the tools and processes to control remote access to their corporate networks.”

The research shows that employees provide the greatest pressure for change, outweighing any external drivers including budget, productivity or competitive advantages. Some 42% of small businesses confirmed demand for combined business and personal use devices is no longer confined to customer-facing or remote-based staff, but is coming from all departments. Fifty-nine per cent of decision-makers stated their staff already uses their personal communications devices for business purposes, most evident in the US (68%) and Canada (65%), compared to only 47% in the UK. Fifty-five per cent stated that the strongest driver for combined business and personal use of their devices is that it makes employees’ lives easier. When business leaders were asked what devices they rely on most, 65% said smartphones, significantly higher than the number still relying on PCs (58%). Tablets are also recognised as key business tools (25%).

Forty-five per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that social collaboration tools make meetings more productive and while almost one third of small businesses said they experience a drop in productivity during the summer, 41% believe that offering a mobile strategy would reduce the impact this has on the business. The research also found the increased use of social collaboration tools in the workplace is being driven most by small businesses’ ability to support effective remote working (cited by 44% of respondents) and by more intuitive, simpler, user interfaces (cited by 39%). Fifty-two per cent of small businesses globally are using video conferencing tools at work, and 45% believe these tools will make their meetings more productive. More than one quarter (27%) of senior executives spend more time in meetings than they did five years ago.

“The 2013 survey highlights a major shift from the findings of a similar study in 2011. Pressure to work wherever, whenever and however we choose is more common. The real value of social collaboration lies in enabling greater creativity and innovation, by allowing those inside and outside the company to work better together, serving customers, creating value and improving the quality of life,” says Caine.


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