Small firms face "brain drain" due to tech challenges

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Date: 20 October 2020

An employee working from home

A new study has found that many small businesses are losing their best talent because they are not geared up for remote working during the pandemic.

Over a quarter of European small business workers say they would switch jobs to an employer that is better equipped for remote working according to a poll by Ricoh Europe.

Its survey of 1,300 European office workers has found that almost half have had to use their own equipment in order to be able to work from home during the pandemic. The findings also show that small firms across Europe are 42% more likely than larger enterprises to lose employees because of technology frustrations around remote working. Over a quarter (27%) of small business employees say they are considering switching jobs.

Other key findings show that:

  • 69% of respondents say they have the skills to work remotely;
  • However, 29% find it difficult to stay motivated and engaged while remote working because of communication and technology issues;
  • 22% also feel less productive due to communication and technology restraints;
  • 48% have had to rely on their own technology to work remotely during the pandemic because their company didn't provide equipment;
  • 24% say they don't have the tools needed to deliver the best results for customers or to collaborate remotely with their team.

Despite remote working issues, many small business workers aren't returning to the office yet. When asked about their company's future remote working policies, 41% believe their company will allow them to work remotely for the remainder of 2020, while 34% believe it could be indefinitely.

Two-thirds (66%) of those polled envisage retaining the flexibility gained during lockdown and 55% trust their company to invest in technology that will meet the workplace requirements of the future. This includes making the office safer, with 40% stating they wouldn't be comfortable returning unless there were additional safety measures such as temperature scanners and touchless equipment.

David Mills, ceo of Ricoh Europe, said: "While digital transformation may have been on their long-term roadmap, there's now no time to waste for small businesses. Without the technology that makes it easy and safe to work effectively from anywhere, business owners are facing a brain drain of their top talent. Organisations are driven by the ability and quality of their people - losing them to the competition often means losing customers, too. Old ways of working can no longer be the norm. It's not good enough for businesses to 'get by' with substandard equipment and processes. The next steps for small businesses will dictate how they overcome disruption and pave the way for future success."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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