25 May 2024

Small business workers fear missing out on the hybrid work opportunity

| The European |

Three in five small business workers anticipate they’ll be predominantly office-based after Covid-19 restrictions ease, due to high levels of admin and paper-based processes

Workers at small businesses across Europe fear they will be forced to return to the office because they are unable to focus on customer experience or growing the business while working remotely.

Research released today by Ricoh Europe polled more than 1,400 office workers at European small businesses. Almost three in five (58%) anticipate they will be predominantly office-based after Covid-19 restrictions ease. At the same time, they foresee barriers and bottlenecks to working in the dynamic manner brought about by ever-evolving customer demands.

Almost half (45%) say they would be more productive with a reduced administrative burden. Cumbersome and traditional ways of working are preventing small businesses from achieving a stronger bottom line, with staff having less or limited time to upsell or propose new business models. While these opportunities are missed, employee creativity, motivation and job satisfaction are being shackled by the necessary undertaking of laborious and mundane tasks.

Employee workload is a central driver in the perceived requirement to return to the office, which is exacerbated by a lack of tools to support high-value tasks while remote working, and an underinvestment in automated processes. Two in five (40%) employees struggle to access insights and information from company systems they need to deliver better customer service while working remotely thus limiting the fast, convenient and personal service that small businesses are known for. This could play into the hands of larger competitors whose staff typically have readily available access to data needed to optimise the customer experience. Half of survey respondents (51%) believe automated processes are indeed the answer. In addition to improving the working experience, this would support efforts to retain top talent such as salespeople who are often the face of the company. In fact, one in four (25%) is considering a job move to somewhere better equipped for remote working. At the same time, the automation of key processes would support efforts to drive customer loyalty and establish small businesses as more digitally savvy entities.

David Mills, CEO Ricoh Europe, says: “Small businesses may not have the budget, or indeed the need, to completely overhaul their tech. But even modest investments such as giving teams the ability to access files remotely can have significant and immediate impacts. Through no fault of their own, many small businesses lack the deep knowledge required to automate processes in an efficient way to achieve crucial cost savings. Finding dependable support for this could form that pivotal moment in laying the foundations for solid continued growth into the digital age.”

Further information


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