THURSDAY 22 JUL 2021 11:56 AM


B Corp certified telecommunications and technology service provider, Zen Internet, is calling for small to medium sized businesses to support remote employees after 86% of employers were found to be willing, but unprepared for long-term flexible working.

Despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England on 19 July and Scotland on 9 August, three out four workers still want the flexibility to work from home. The research from Zen Internet highlighted the key challenges SMEs face when creating the infrastructure needed to support flexible working practice.

Poor internet connection was found to be the biggest challenge by 46% of respondents. A further 21% of SMEs said employees were unable to access the company system from home, and 12% referenced poor integration of communication systems as a key barrier.

Georgina Lord, managing director of the retail division at Zen, says, “From an employee perspective the crucial thing moving forward is investing in the systems and infrastructure that mean they can work seamlessly from any location – moving to cloud-based solutions, upgrading employee broadband connections and ensuring that they have the right technology and devices to do their job from anywhere.”

The government is promoting a return to the office, while in reality many small businesses are struggling to adapt to the new hybrid-working model. Large businesses are being comparatively adaptable, with big brands such as travel company, TUI, announcing that UK staff only need to work from the office one day per month.

Half of UK businesses are already using a cloud-based solution for integrating their comms channels, but it is clear that small businesses are falling behind with budget limitations cited as the biggest constraint.

“While poor internet in prosumers’ homes may have them rushing back to faster broadband speeds in the office, some sectors where there is high demand for talent, such as the digital industries, may find that employees will choose to work with firms that have focused on homeworking needs – as this is how many employees want to be able to work,” adds Lord.

The next five years will be crucial for businesses when adapting to the new normal, and those that are agile and able to embrace new infrastructure will maintain a competitive edge and attract the best talent.