Small businesses are continuing to embrace teleworking, with new research revealing almost two in three allow their employees to telework to some extent.
The research conducted by MYOB and released this morning to mark the start of National Telework Week found the number of SMEs accepting teleworking has jumped 7% since March 2013 from 57% to 64%.
The study of 1022 Australian SME operators matches findings from the Australian Communications and Media Authority released in October this year, which found half of Australia’s working population worked from home or on the go.
According to MYOB, 27% of SMEs have staff who work partly from home and partly from the business premises, and another 37% have staff who work mainly from a location away from the office.
Businesses with teleworkers felt less pressure from common SME pain points such as cash flow pressures and price margins.
Of the businesses surveyed, only 27% of those with teleworkers felt the strain of price margins, compared to 37% with only on-site workers.
These businesses were also likely to have more sales in the short-term pipeline than usual, were slightly more satisfied with their work/life balance.
MYOB found the most common places for employees to work were on the road or from home. Twenty per cent of respondents said they worked mainly on the road and partly from home, while 18% worked mainly on the road and partly from the business premises.
MYOB chief technology officer Simon Raik-Allen said in a statement teleworking is an increasingly attractive option for small businesses as they become more comfortable using advanced hardware, software and online services.
“They’re more comfortable with how technology transforms the way we work and how we communicate with each other. A greater number of operators are realising the bottom line benefits, and a wider range of cost-effective telework-enabling technologies are entering the marketplace,” he says.
“Our research shows teleworking can play a vital role in business success, providing benefits including increased efficiencies and productivity, reduced overheads and happier employees. It’s about implementing the right technology and learning to make the most of it to maximise your and your team’s effectiveness.”
Similar to the MYOB study, the ACMA found 39% of employers with less than 20 staff allowed their employees to work from home at least one day a week, while 55% of mid-sized businesses permitted this.
ACMA communications analysis manager Joseph Di Gregorio previously told SmartCompany ‘digital workers’ are becoming more common.
“Australians are doing more online, be it commerce, entertainment or interacting with businesses and government, so working is just becoming part of that story,” he says.
“It’s a broader picture with regards to the digital economy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers do increase. The internet is no longer on the periphery; it’s a core part of everyday life.”
MYOB found Gen Y business operators were the most likely to telework, with 74% saying they work out of the office, while baby boomers were the least likely.
Start-up businesses, sole traders, companies run by males, and those located in Western Australia were also more likely to work from home or on the go.
Management issues which arise from teleworking including employees becoming lonely from working in isolation, workers not understanding what objectives they need to achieve and employees in the physical office assuming the teleworkers are slacking off, despite research showing otherwise.
As part of national telework week, check back with SmartCompany tomorrow as we look at what technologies are influencing this boom and what barriers exist for small businesses wanting to engage teleworkers.