By Eric Yu, Lenovo’s Senior Vice President and General Manager.
Remote work is becoming a prevalent norm for the future. In fact, according to a recent Lenovo study, 60 percent of small to medium-sized business (SMB) employees prefer working from home some of the time. The study also says, 70 percent of employees think work flexibility makes them more satisfied with their job. It goes without saying, most employees begin to choose remote work now. Therefore supporting them to work productively from various locations will be key for SMB success. In other words, make a transition into a hybrid workforce. However, this can come with its own challenges.
Today’s workforce is every business’ most valuable asset
The new generation of workers has high expectations for the type of tech-driven collaboration they desire from their workplace. Providing technologically advanced options for work and collaboration to the employees is not enough. Offering versatile options for them is also important in competitive hiring and retaining your employees. Research shows 83 percent of employees desire a hybrid work model even without COVID. It also says that most businesses are more than happy to accommodate their employees who prefer a hybrid work model. And the reason is these businesses understand the power of flexibility in attracting new talent.
Being properly enable today’s diverse workforce is important for SMBS in order to work productively in their preferred modality. Therefore SMBs should be adaptable and attentive. They should be adaptable to the locations of their teams. They should also be attentive to the technological necessities that a hybrid work environment requires. SMBs must therefore take into account potential obstacles. Such potential obstacles can be device portability, accessibility, etc. By taking these obstacles into account, SMBs can maximize the ability to collaborate in remote and hybrid settings.
This Cargo research study shows the factors that most influence an SMB’s device purchasing decision is if the device runs the software their business needs, followed closely by brand trustworthiness. However, this study also shows 46 percent of SMB employees choose their own devices. Therefore, to better support employees, SMBs need to provide their teams with the right knowledge to make informed decisions on these devices. In addition, they should ensure digital tools that prioritize accessibility and collaboration are available on selected devices.
Digital acceleration allows smarter and flexible workspaces for employees
Employee experience and productivity go hand in hand. SMBs must be flexible to retain their workforce and can accomplish this by establishing productive digital workspaces. As proven by the influx of remote work since the pandemic, people and their tech define a workplace, not its location.
Collaboration cloud and software tools for functions such as video calls and simultaneous document collaboration are essential to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. This is evidenced by the immense influx of Microsoft Teams users in the past year, of which they now have 250 million users each month. If SMBs want to witness continued growth, it is critical that businesses focus on providing and maintaining reliable collaboration tools that would allow them to make a transition into a hybrid workforce, making employees work comfortably and productively from wherever they choose.
Prioritizing employee engagement can translate to positive customer experiences and better business results. According to this study, 79 percent of employees at companies with above-average customer experiences are highly engaged in their jobs compared to 49 percent of employees at companies with average or below-average customer experience scores. The link between employee and customer experiences and business success is further reinforced according to “The Employee Experience Advantage” by Jacob Morgan. Companies that invest in the experiences of their employees are also four times more profitable than those that don’t.
Positive employee experiences translate into positive customer experiences, driving loyalty and in turn, business results; therefore, SMBs must embrace digital transformation to power economic recovery and secure a promising future.
How technological innovation drives better business recovery and continuity
To earn a competitive advantage, many businesses plan to invest in emerging technologies over the next three years. According to this research study, 37 percent of SMBs wished they would have proactively adopted new technology instead of scrambling to adapt quickly once an emergency, like the pandemic, occurred. Assessing, testing, and deploying new technologies can be disruptive to business continuity, however digital infrastructures and intelligent transformation initiatives will pave the way for business recovery and greater agility down the line.
Remote and hybrid work choices evolve throughout this year and the foreseeable future. Hence the workspace solutions that small businesses implement have to be malleable. These solutions should also be advanced enough to meet the needs and expectations of the ever-changing workforce and unpredictable world.
The workspace solutions with the most positive impact for SMBs transitioning into a hybrid workforce seamlessly enable end-user collaboration and productivity while meeting the security and manageability requirements of SMB business infrastructure. Security remains a top business concern, as SMB employees continue working from a myriad of locations. Smarter devices, services, and software solutions that can self-diagnose and pre-empt IT issues can aid SMBs without a robust IT department.
Prioritizing device security allows for SMB employees to conduct business in a secure environment regardless of where they may be located. AI and cloud technology deliver benefits to employees. As an enabling technology, AI works in harmony with people to automate and facilitate existing processes. On the other hand, cloud technology creates digital workspaces that prioritize and maximize collaboration.
Easing into Hybrid Work
SMBs should be empowered to consider all possible options to improve their overall work experience. This way, their transition into a hybrid workforce will be a smooth process. They will be able to expand their workforce. Additionally, they will be capable of scaling in a more cost-effective way by leveraging new “as-a-service” solutions. This evolution will be a driving force in the small business’s economic recovery.
Accommodation and understanding are key for SMBs to understand, retain, and support their workforce. This way, they can provide the proper tools that allow employers and employees to remain flexible. As the workplace continues to transform with more versatile options, it is important for SMBs to utilize the right technology to grow into the evolving hybrid environment and support their employees as they lead the charge in driving economic recovery and success.
Lenovo’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Worldwide Small and Medium Business Segment, PC and Smart Device (PC&SD) Business Group, Eric Yu, is responsible for the segment‘s global end-to-end business strategy and execution. He also oversees Lenovo’s global Monitors Business Unit and Accessories Business Units. Yu has worked for 20 years across different Lenovo business functions, including Visuals Business and Desktop PC development. He has a track record of understanding business needs and exceeding growth exponentially in various technology segments.