Small businesses are becoming more and more automated, creating more flexible working hours and allowing employees to work from home.
Getting more work done in less time is the goal of any forward thinking business, with small businesses getting to grips with going digital in the current trend. Apps, automation and cloud sharing are enabling businesses to reduce their hours or simply fit more work in to the day.
There can a be a level of fear attached to moving to a more digital work place. Many employees worry that technology is a means to replace human labour, when in fact, recent data suggests that small businesses are actually looking to boost headcount, even when paying for the systems to streamline efficiency. According to the National Federation of Independent Business Research Center, 36 percent of small companies were not able to fill open positions in June, matching the survey's record high from November 2000. For smaller firms, one method being used to attract new workers is with shorter or remote work hours.
Companies who have introduced technology have been able to do amazing things to the work-life balance and motivation of their staff. Some companies, like Unlimited Power, have managed to change working hours such as starting at 10am and leaving at 4pm outside of rush hour and allowing parents to do the school run while working. This is an overall reduction from 40 hours to 26 hours a week with the salaries of the old hours sticking.
Businesses are seeing the use of newer technologies as 'future-proofing' them for years to come to keep up with competitors, however, a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association showed that more than 70 percent of respondents felt it was "very important" to keep up with changing technology trends, yet more than 40 percent of them were concerned by costs and cyber-security breaches. 53 percent of businesses say that they would like to use technology, but don't because of the worry of expense. There is still therefore a way to go with the move to smoother operations for some businesses, whilst others are reaping the rewards.
With new ways of working, there is always an element of training required, whether this is technology based or not. Companies need to invest at least some time and money in the initial roll out of new programmes, whether this is in the form of group or individual sessions that are led, or employee led sessions using training videos and guides. Proper training also helps to eliminate the fear factor that employees can have when embarking on something new in their work regime.
For Bonita Webster, founder and CEO of Indy Medical Supplies, a company which sells medical devices to improve quality of life, technology is what helps her keep work hours manageable.
Webster teaches and sells medical devices to larger companies and private owners, relying on YouTube to share videos about how to use difficult equipment rather than spending time re-explaining complicated machinery. She told CNBC that one of her biggest challenge is doing too much by herself.
"When you wear so many hats, some of what you have to do will fall through cracks," she said. "You know what you want to do but you don't have time to do it all." and isn't that help exactly what business technology was designed to do? We certainly think so!
Page image by