More than that, European small businesses are 42% more likely than enterprises to lose employees because of technology frustrations around remote working.  These numbers have serious implications for Canadian business.

As small business owners continue to recover from the effects of the global pandemic, workers expect their employer to offer a modern blended approach to how and where they work according to new research commissioned by Ricoh Europe, based on a survey of 1,300 European office workers.
While many of us experienced tech glitches or problems connecting with our team in the early days of the pandemic, it was widely understood that we were all operating in a very unusual landscape and organizations were still finding their way. To a certain extent, employees were willing to overlook these issues at the time and make the best of the situation.
However, months into widespread remote working, the picture is very different.
Employees are finding poor technology experiences grating, with over a quarter (27%) considering a job move to somewhere better equipped for remote working.  This should act as a stark wake up call for small businesses anywhere in the world. If small business is unable to give their people the working experience they need, they face the very real prospect of losing them to direct competitors and larger organizations always looking for best and brightest talent, who already are.
Employee needs are evolving. Beyond a consistent and easy-to-use technology experience, they want to feel safe and confident in the way they work.
The study also reveals that:
– 69% say they have the skills to work remotely
– However, 29% find it difficult to stay motivated and engaged while remote working because of communication and technology issues
– 22% also feel less productive due to communication and technology restraints
– 48% have had to rely on their own technology to work remotely during the pandemic because their company didn’t provide equipment
This tech shortfall in Europe risks not just talent retention. Worryingly, at a time when driving growth is critical, 24% say they don’t have the tools needed to deliver the best results for customers or to collaborate remotely with their team.
Despite remote working issues, small business workers globally aren’t returning to the office en masse anytime soon. When asked about their company’s future remote working policies, 41% believe their company will allow them to work remotely for the remainder of 2020, while 34% believe it could be indefinitely.
Small business employees there certainly expect more from their employers. Two-thirds (66%) envisage retaining the flexibility gained during lockdowns and 55% trust their company to invest in technology that will meet the workplace requirements of the future. This includes making the office safer, with 40% stating they wouldn’t be comfortable returning unless there are additional safety measures such as temperature scanners and touchless equipment.
David Mills, CEO, Ricoh Europe, observed: “While digital transformation may have been on their long-term roadmap, there’s now no time to waste for small businesses. Without the technology that makes it easy and safe to work effectively from anywhere, business owners are facing a brain drain of their top talent. Organisations are driven by the ability and quality of their people – losing them to the competition often means losing customers, too. Old ways of working can no longer be the norm. It’s not good enough for businesses to ‘get by’ with substandard equipment and processes. The next steps for small businesses will dictate how they overcome disruption and pave the way for future success.”
Meanwhile here in Canada, while no comparable apples to apples SMB data yet exists to rely on since the ‘reopening’, we can however, extrapolate from recent findings from the Hays 2021 Salary Guide and elsewhere that we’re in the same boat – all the more concerning given the importance of small business to the Canadian economy.
While the majority of Canadian employers feel confident about the economy and have a positive employment outlook, that perspective is not shared by their teams. Reduced social interaction, increased workloads, and a lack of well-being and mental health support are among concerns cited by Canadian employees. The data also found that staff at these companies have also been weathering the storm, but its effects are more deeply felt and their optimism is in short supply.
Relatedly, half of Canadian small business is leaking revenue daily in COVID second wave according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). While that may include a lot of solo and so-called mom and pop business where this trend simply doesn’t apply, we can see a similar trend forming here that sees talent going to organizations that do provide the comforts of the ‘new world of work’ and programs that do recognize the rather large mental health issue at the heart of the remote work pandemic workstyle that many mid-sized companies and enterprise level firms had already in place or have since started going down the road to their own digital transformation.

Ricoh Canada is a collaborative partner, exploring these concerns and providing customized solution recommendations for keeping your employees safe, connected and engaged, wherever they work.  If you’d like to see and hear more about how to connect your people to information, technology and each other, so they can innovate, communicate and collaborate to drive growth, read our Empower Your Dynamic Workforce eBook today. Ricoh can help.