Close to two-thirds (60 percent) of knowledge workers in small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the U.S., UK and Germany now use on-demand tools—technology that is Internet or cloud-based—in their professional roles, according to a Unify survey of 5,000 British, American and German SMB knowledge workers.
This figure is higher than in companies with 500 or more employees (53 percent), indicating the agile, forward-looking nature of SMBs.
Knowledge workers at SMBs expect to see large changes in their jobs over the next five years. More than a third (38 percent) believe their roles will not exist after this timeframe, with almost two-thirds (64 percent) thinking they will not look the same.
"It's no surprise that SMBs are nimbler and more agile than larger companies, which is why they've adopted on-demand tools and cloud-based technology so quickly," Bob Clinton, chief marketing officer at Unify, told eWEEK. "However, it was surprising that, in spite of many of these SMBs employing BYOD strategies and their workers believing that the business operates more through technology than offices, the workforce is extremely hesitant to be 100 percent remote. If they truly believe that technology is the driver, then location is irrelevant."
Clinton said it indicates a huge opportunity for providers to really focus on end-user adoption and technology solutions that make a workforce feel connected on every level so employees feel more comfortable in remote environments.
"The new way to work emphasizes workforce flexibility from both a technology and location standpoint, and the benefits are staggering—less commute time, more work/life balance, better productivity and more," he explained. "As the workforce begins to understand the resources available, they'll realize that the shift toward a distributed workforce can be collaborative, flexible and empowering."
Just over three-quarters (76 percent) of SMB knowledge workers feel they are listened to in their organization, compared with 71 percent in larger companies, suggesting they will be well-positioned to adapt in the future.
Email is still seen as an essential tool, with seven in 10 (70 percent) of small and medium businesses viewing it as such.
Companies of this size rely on it less than larger organizations though—80 percent of the latter stated email is essential.
There is also strong evidence of further consumerization of enterprise technology, with close to two-thirds (61 percent) of SMBs using their own devices at work, compared with just under half (47 percent) at large organizations.
Close to half of SMB knowledge workers (47 percent) believe a single office as a physical workplace is less important than in the past, while almost half (48 percent) of both SMBs with under 500 employees and larger companies believe their organizations operate through technology rather than offices.
However, SMBs with fewer than 100 employees are a different story, as only about two-fifths (40 percent) believe this.