When the pandemic forced small businesses to reimagine their workforce, many turned to remote work options for the first time ever. While this began as a necessity, a lot of these companies are continuing to allow remote or hybrid work models.
At the same time, small businesses face new difficulties in budgeting and forecasting cash flow as the uncertainties around supply chains and a massive resignation of employees increases unpredictability of future earnings.
And to top it all off, the continuously evolving landscape of the workplace is leaving employees burnt out.
In order to address these issues, savvy small businesses are embracing change by using technology to their advantage in three key areas. Take a look at how you can help your small business navigate the rough waters of change by implementing leading tech solutions.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the workplace since the pandemic began is how employees engage with their colleagues and the culture of their company. Conversations that once took place over water coolers now take place virtually through online platforms and tools. Events that were designed to promote a business culture were forced to move to a digital format.
While many small businesses were concerned about productivity and how remote operations would affect company culture, remote work has, in the majority of cases, resulted in a positive outcome. Recent data indicates that 67% of workers who transitioned to remote work last year report feeling more productive while working from home, largely due to flexible working hours. Additionally, 55% of workers who transitioned to remote work report feeling more connected to their company’s culture at their office or worksite.
A move toward a hybrid and virtually connected workspace allows companies to benefit from a more satisfied workforce. At the same time, businesses must implement practices aimed at keeping the company culture alive. If not, colleagues can wind up disconnected from each other and from the business as a whole.
This is where technology plays a critical role in the success of these companies’ remote work culture. Examples of how technology creates positive change include:
Hosting virtual team-building activities: For small businesses willing to think outside of the box, the team-building activities that once took place during in-person conferences can be recreated in a digital format. Many remote workforce tools now allow for competitions, point systems, and more. This allows leaders to encourage team building with employees from across the country.
Celebrating achievements via remote town halls: Celebrating milestones is still an important part of company culture. Small businesses now use technology to host virtual town halls where important accomplishments are highlighted. This is a critical step in engaging with high performers.
Using chat channels to encourage personal connection: Through collaborative chat platforms, businesses can set up channels for employees with shared interests to connect on a more personal level. Channels might be focused on outdoor activities, pets, or funny memes. The goal is to help encourage teams to interact about more than just day-to-day work.
These are just a few of the many ways in which the right technology can help create a healthy remote work culture. Small businesses willing to embrace remote work and look for meaningful ways to engage with employees regardless of their physical location will see performance improvement and increased satisfaction.
For many small businesses, the pandemic was a challenging event that ate away at critical profits. In the mid-Atlantic region alone, more than 55% of small businesses were forced to shutter their doors, and employment fell by 44% . A huge compounding factor was the fact that the majority of these small businesses had less than two months of cash on hand to deal with a major financial upheaval.
A balanced budget and cash flow issues are not new concerns for small businesses. However, with the added complexities that the uncertainty of the past two years brought, savvy businesses turn to intelligent technology solutions to improve forecasting and budgeting.
Today, many of the leading budgeting software solutions utilize automation to increase accuracy in forecasting and in designing budgets. These platforms integrate data from across systems, to allow small businesses a more accurate account of potential costs and predictions of future sales.
As machine learning and intelligent modeling advance, businesses will benefit from tapping into this technology. Platforms that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) have the ability to accurately analyze large amounts of data at once. In doing so, these tools identify patterns and predict future outcomes far more precisely than the manual spreadsheet-based processes of old.
Change is an inevitable part of doing business, and if the pandemic taught small businesses a particularly valuable lesson, it was to learn how to quickly adapt to new technological solutions in the face of uncertainty.
According to a McKinsey Global Survey of executives, companies accelerated the digitization of their internal operations by three to four years due to the pandemic. Not only that, but executives also indicated that their companies were able to act 20 to 25 times faster than expected .
While the digital transformation spurred on by the pandemic was far more successful than most companies would have predicted, there is still work to be done to assist employees in the transition to long-term change. According to the 2022 Change Fatigue Survey, 71% of employees are experiencing change fatigue at their job [*].
The good news is that with the increased demand for remote work solutions, the technology available is increasing in effectiveness. Many companies benefit from working toward a more singular technology solution.
For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, as businesses scrambled to keep employees connected virtually, many teams used a combination of communication platforms. Employees were forced to hop from a video conference call to a chat in a collaboration tool to an email and then to a different video conference platform with another department. This is just one example of many where too many solutions were introduced or patched together at once.
Now businesses need to step back and reassess what technology they are committed to using in the future. For example, getting rid of five different communication channels, and instead ramping up training on one integrated communications suite, will help reduce fatigue. This same theory can be applied across technologies from project management platforms to customer service solutions.
Another critical component of continued digital transformation is for small businesses to listen carefully to feedback from employees. A lot of the initial technology solutions that were put into place as a stop-gap when the pandemic hit are no longer the ideal solution for existing needs. Company leaders should take the time to periodically survey employees and find out what technology aids in the creation of a positive work experience and what technology might actually slow down productivity or lead to disjointed silos.
Small businesses that are willing to embrace change through the implementation of the right technology have a lot to gain. From a focus on the happiness of employees—which results in higher levels of productivity—to intelligent budget forecasting, there are numerous ways in which technology can power your company forward.
If you are looking for remote work software solutions, check out the GetApp directory, which includes nearly 300 software options that can help your small business team connect, engage, and operate efficiently from anywhere.
Additionally, you can learn more about how to embrace change through the use of technology by checking out these pieces:
* GetApp's 2022 Change Fatigue Survey was conducted in March 2022 among 970 U.S. employees representative of the U.S. workforce by age, race, and gender. Respondents had to be with the same employer since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this survey was to learn how employees have responded to changes at their job over the course of the pandemic.
1. A Way Forward for Small Businesses, Harvard Business Review
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