Connectivity and flexibility are vital for small businesses

Publication Date: Jun 20, 2021
 

Connectivity and flexibility are vital for small businesses
Article by Claude Calleja Executive eSkills Malta Foundation published on The Sunday Times of Malta on 20.06.2021

In difficult times, small business owners should consider adapting to the changing needs of customers in their niche.  Specific target markets are more likely to flourish in times of global economic turmoil. For example, small businesses serving ancillary business components may suffer as companies seek current full-time staff to meet these needs to minimise costs.   

While each niche faces its own challenges, small businesses have many things in common. Growing companies need to hire staff, change working environments, and adapt to the different connectivity needs of each company. Adding new employees and networks not only costs more, but also changes user requirements.    

According to various studies, the pandemic has led to significant changes in working and customer behaviour, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and workers. Research shows that the pandemic accelerated the need for better connectivity and flexible working practices to become a norm, not a privilege. It is no secret that the use of digital tools such as online e-commerce and marketing methods can benefit small businesses. 
It is important to listen to employees’ needs and to figure out how best to connect with employees. Hybrid working models combine the best of both worlds and give employees the freedom and flexibility to collaborate and work in a team. For small businesses, one of the biggest advantages of hybrid work models is cost savings. 

Three-quarters of small enterprises in knowledge-based sectors have most of their employees working from home, while a third work in service industries and a quarter in sectors that rely on physical work. On the other hand, small companies are seeing a decline in their niche jobs because of the services provided by offshore workers. The trend towards outsourcing is advantageous for boutiques, as companies increasingly recruit small firms to help with non-critical business components.

No matter what the business is, networking is at the heart of everyone’s work. One relies on their business Internet connection for networking and to get access to tools and web apps to work with their team. Having said that, the last place to skimp is on connectivity via the internet connection. 

Technology allows small business owners and their employees the opportunity to work from any office, from home, on the street or across the country. This allows them to recruit talent from around the world and helps companies gain a competitive advantage in a global environment. 

When employees work from their smartphones and tablets, Wi-Fi is key to keeping them productive, whether they're in the conference room, office, or cafeteria. It promotes personal collaboration because team members know they can gather and work in real-time, rather than being chained to individual desks. Employees can access company emails and other sensitive business documents, and WiFi is secure.

The results show that the pandemic has accelerated the need for better connectivity and flexible working practices to become a norm, not a privilege. Introducing technological solutions is a powerful way to reconcile employee productivity and safety while increasing efficiency for years to come. If flexibility is important for one’s business, examining the current challenges facing small businesses during the COVID 19 pandemic provides an insight into how SMEs can help them adapt to the new environment.

There is no need to deny that we are presently in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, a crisis that took the population, the government, the education system and the entire business world by surprise.  Going forward, this calamity will separate the flexible and connected enterprises from the one’s who have a silo mentality and are convinced to carry on with their antiquated methods.

This article was prepared by collating various publicly available online sources.