Seventy percent of small-business owners claim to use audio and video conferencing technology, according to a survey of 200 small-business owners in the United States, which was conducted by conferencing services specialist InterCall.
Although the majority of small-business owners use conferencing tools, the findings suggest they may not be using them to their fullest potential, with 39 percent of small-business owners spending more than 10 hours and $100 per month on business travel and few of them (32 percent) enjoying a healthy work-life balance.
Twenty-one percent of 18-to-29-year-old business owners surveyed said they spend more than $100 per month on professional travel, versus 40 percent of their elders.
Nearly all (97 percent) of 18-to-29-year-old small-business owners surveyed said they still work full time, between 35 and 50 hours per week, while enjoying a healthy work-life balance.
Younger respondents are nearly twice as likely to feel that they have an optimal work-life balance than 45 to 60 year-olds (56 percent versus 30 percent), and older small-business owners are six times more likely to work 50+ hour weeks than their younger counterparts (24 percent versus 4 percent).
The survey also indicated younger SMB owners are more likely to use conferencing services to improve their work-life balance. In fact, 72 percent of younger small-business owners (between 18 and 29 years old) have adopted conferencing and collaboration tools, compared with just 53 percent of owners between 45 and 60.
"Conferencing usage will continue to grow, and it will also expand beyond traditional audio calls into Web and video meetings," Dennis Collins, director of marketing at InterCall, told eWEEK. "If you agree that our economy is becoming more service-oriented and more global, then many new SMBs will be companies of knowledge workers no longer geographically constrained like their predecessors."
Conferencing and collaboration tools will support and nurture this sort of expansion, Collins said.
"For example, accountants and financial planners can follow their clients as they move from place to place because local access is now less of a decision criterion," he said.
With extra free time, most small-business owners said they would be quick to devote spare hours to family (68 percent), friends (62 percent) and hobbies (62 percent).
However, small-business owners between 18 and 29 are more than twice as likely to spend free time "doing nothing" compared with 45-to-60-year-old owners (55 percent versus 24 percent).
Female owners are more likely to use conferencing technology compared with male owners (68 percent versus 60 percent).
According to the survey results, neither gender overwhelmingly feels that they've achieved an optimal work-life balance, but male business owners are slightly more content with their situation (40 percent versus 37 percent).
Male owners are also more likely to feel that conferencing technology would improve their work-life balance (19 percent versus 13 percent).
"Conferencing isn't something that younger SMB owners have to adopt; they've grown up with mobile accessibility and the ability to connect simultaneously with multiple people through chat, IM and online gaming," Collins said. "They are more technologically immersed than previous generations. Combine that technology immersion with a predisposition to collaborate and groupthink, and it's understandable that younger users embrace these tools."