Wednesday 29th Jul 2020
While the UK lockdown has eased over the last few weeks, the return to the office is still slow to progress, with nearly two thirds of businesses (64%) continuing to work from home. For businesses who usually run from an office location, the shift in operation has been huge, but there is clearly an overpowering need to protect the workforce and eliminate risks before a return should or can be made.
Following our recent remote working study, we conducted further research with SME business owners in the UK to investigate the cost savings that small businesses have made by working from home during the coronavirus crisis. We examined the cost of employee expenses and client entertainment, uncovering some intriguing information on exactly how much our businesses have saved. Read on to find out more about how work-life balance, environmental impact and cost-saving advantages are changing the way SMEs think about office working.
SME cost savings
From our research with 250 UK SME business owners across all industries, the below were found to be the most common savings made from having staff working from home:
Employee food and drink - 53%
Employee travel - 48%
Cleaning services - 45%
Catering client meetings - 36%
Rent and utilities - 36%
Looking at the savings made on these outgoings when comparing costs before and during lockdown, on average SME businesses (70%) saved up to an impressive £840 monthly. This is a cost that could total up to £10,000 annually for these companies. With cashflow an issue for many businesses right now, and with SMEs facing an even greater need to protect the bottom line, any savings which can be made during this period are a sure-fire way of supporting the future success of small businesses.
Future of remote working
For a long time, it has been widely reported that remote working can bring a host of strong benefits to a business, with many studies demonstrating that allowing employees the flexibility to work from home
A key factor in retaining employees and maintaining a motivated workforce is creating a work-life balance that works for your staff. In light of that fact, over half (54%) of business owners now think that remote working has allowed staff to have a better balance in their lives.
As many businesses strive towards a greener future, it was also recognised that remote working has substantially reduced the carbon footprint of UK companies (48%). Other benefits include reducing office space costs (45%), reducing absenteeism (36%) and retaining staff (32%) – all improvements which will prove very attractive to cost-saving, employee-focused SMEs.
These factors are likely to be key considerations when business leaders make any future decisions on work processes. We also found that one third of businesses plan to have over half of their workforce working remotely permanently after the current pandemic ends. Out of those surveyed, 12 per cent of SMEs plan for nearly all their staff (91-100%) to work from home on a permanent basis.
SME support during coronavirus
The UK Government has created many schemes to support SMEs during this time, designed to help them tackle an uncertain future in the post-COVID landscape. Many small businesses have taken advantage of the funding available, such as placing workers on furlough leave (35%), claiming business rates relief (25%) and using the coronavirus Future Fund (23%).
There are many different types of help available to small businesses right now and it can be difficult to understand which is the right financial support for your business. We have created a comprehensive guide for SMEs, and what the future might look like, in our new report here.