Inbox: Remote working boosts SME growth

Remote working can boost revenue, and New Zealand companies benefit more than their Australian counterparts. New research by New Zealand’s largest accounting software provider, MYOB, reveals almost half the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) now have employees who work from home or away from the office.
MYOB commissioned research firm Colmar Brunton to conduct nationally representative survey of 1047 SMEs. Eighteen percent said their employees worked ‘mainly away from the office’, 28 percent said they worked ‘partly from home and from the office’ and the remainder did not have remote workers.
One key finding was that SMEs whose employees worked mostly from location other than business premises were 43 percent more likely to have seen revenue rise in the past year than those without remote workers. They were 21 percent less likely to see revenue fall.
The survey also highlighted that while fewer New Zealand businesses have teleworkers than Australian businesses, where 57 percent support the practice, they were more likely to see the financial benefits. Australian businesses with teleworkers were only 24 percent more likely to see revenue rise in the past year.
MYOB general manager, business division, James Scollay says, “The link between teleworking and improved business results is clear in MYOB’s research. SMEs whose employees worked remotely most or all of the time were 43 percent more likely to experience revenue rise in the past year. 40 percent experienced rise, compared to 28 percent whose staff only worked from the office.
“When looking at businesses whose revenue fell, 29 percent of the SMEs without teleworkers saw fall, versus 23 percent of those whose staff teleworked most of the time. These trends speak volumes as to why empowering employees to work outside the traditional confines of an office is becoming increasingly prevalent. Businesses are realising the bottom line benefits and rewards from more engaged employees,” claims Scollay.

Key business benefits of teleworking
Key benefits include improved employee satisfaction and IT performance, travel savings and increased productivity.
Employees are more productive 27%
Travel costs have been reduced 26%
Employees are happier 24%
Overall IT performance has been improved 19%
My business’s carbon footprint has been reduced 16%
Business manager(s) is/are happier 14%
IT issues have been reduced 14%
IT costs have been reduced 13%
I can hire employees living in any location/s 13%
Premises rental costs have been reduced 9%
The number of employee sick days has dropped 5%
I can attract higher quality staff 5%
Other 15%
Scollay says, “Technology is key enabler of teleworking and nowadays you don’t need to spend much money upfront to get started. There are plenty of simple free online technologies and applications available such as Skype, Dropbox and Gmail. And the cloud-enabling of new versions of more fully featured applications such as Microsoft Office 365 and MYOB AccountRight Live makes for an easy transition for working remotely. M

Teleworking technologies
Respondents whose employees worked away from the office to some extent were asked what technologies they used for teleworking. Almost three in four used email, more than three in five used laptops/computers and more than one in two used smartphones. Interestingly, fewer than one in 10 used VPN and video conferencing. M

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