Economic pressures are resulting in a significant shift in work patterns for Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Recent research indicates SMEs are reverting to remote working models as a primary cost-cutting measure. Nucleus Commercial Finance, who conducted the study, show that SMEs' average confidence score is a mere 40.1 out of 100. A score of less than 50 indicates dented confidence due to factors such as inflation, rising operational costs, and erratic cash flow.
The research surveyed 1,500 SMEs and found that a vast majority, approximately 79 per cent, are advocating remote work as a strategic measure to reduce business expenses. This shift is resulting from persistent issues in securing funding ever since conventional banks imposed stringent financing criteria.
Andy Ward, the VP International for Absolute Software, confirmed these findings, saying, “Economic pressures are unsurprisingly changing the way that businesses operate and despite enthusiasm for staff to be back in the office, the reality is that hybrid or even remote working models offer vital cost savings and flexibility. However, for remote and hybrid working to be successful, it is essential that organisations prioritise cybersecurity to ensure that devices, applications and the company network remain secure regardless of where an employee is logging on from.”
He went on to underscore the importance of robust cybersecurity measures, especially in the context of a distributed workforce. “When managing a distributed workforce, especially in a landscape of evolving cyber threats," he explained, "secure access to corporate data for remote workers is key. Organisations need to implement solutions that not only ensure strong performance, even on slow networks, but also bolster cyber defences through increased visibility into each device and application, as well as network performance.”
The potential for substantial economic savings is undeniable. Chirag Shah, the founder and CEO of Nucleus Commercial Finance, posits that businesses could preserve up to £8,000 annually for each employee working from home. Despite the financial advantages, the shift to remote working is not without its unique challenges.
A recent survey conducted by the 2023 UK StartUps Awards of more than 1,200 businesses revealed that 85 per cent of start-ups launched in the past three years have relied on personal capital as their initial financing source. Shah insists on the importance of comprehending customer needs and grasping business operations dynamics to ensure that resources are allocated for the maximum positive impact, particularly during economic crunch times.
The Treasury Committee's continuing enquiry on the fundings shortcomings encountered by SMEs cited evidence from banking trade body UK Finance in September, revealing that lenders possess both the capability and readiness to support SMEs in procuring necessary finance.