September 27, 2021

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

82% of SMEs plan on implementing a hybrid workforce post-pandemic

Nearly half of small business leaders believe hybrid work makes them more profitable

Research carried out by Owl Labs in their annual State of Hybrid Work study which polled 500 UK business leaders, including 250 small business leaders*, suggests that the majority (82%) of small business leaders plan on having a hybrid, flexible or remote workforce post-pandemic as nearly half (49%) believe that hybrid work makes their business more profitable. What’s more, 48% of small businesses leaders believe hybrid work helps them tap into wider talent pools while a further 36% said hybrid work has a positive impact on employee retention. This positive outlook also extends to wellbeing with nearly half (42%) of SME leaders stating that hybrid work boosts employee wellbeing. As a result, a quarter (25%) of SMEs are considering new HR policies to cater to hybrid work and more progressive workplace policies such as a 4-day working week (38%), implementing core hours (39%) and introducing working from anywhere policies (32%).

As workplaces cautiously open up, 21% of small business leaders are considering requiring employees to have vaccine passports to re-enter the workplace. Nearly a quarter (24%) of SMEs are planning on providing onsite covid testing facilities (for lateral flow tests) to encourage employees to return to work. However, compared to 31% of large businesses, only 19% of small business leaders are considering enforcing ‘vaccine passports’ and only allowing workers who have been vaccinated to return to the office.

The pandemic has led to a fundamental shift in how small businesses approach the traditional 9 to 5 work week. With hybrid work known to provide more flexibility and a better work-life balance for employees, not only did 39% of SMEs believe that hybrid work impacted employee morale positively, but a further 40% thought it reduced employee sickness and absences, whilst 36% believe it increased employee retention. As a result, 30% of small business leaders plan to hire employees who can work remotely no matter their location moving forward. Just under a third (31%) plan to introduce ‘core hours’ to allow for flexibility outside of these set hours. Interestingly, only 11% of small business leaders are planning to reduce salaries of fully remote employees, again furthering employee retention, compared to 25% of large businesses. What’s more, a quarter (25%) of SMEs are considering ‘right to disconnect’ policies to ensure home life and work life doesn’t bleed into each other for remote employees.

To facilitate the shift to hybrid work, 38% of small business leaders are investing in new tech solutions to support a dispersed workforce and ensure equity for all employees no matter where they work, while a further 39% are investing in communication tools such as Slack, Zoom and 360-degree conference cameras. Over a quarter (28%) of SMEs are planning to provide a future stipend for employees to purchase their own equipment to account for the long term shift to hybrid work. However, compared to 51% of large businesses, small businesses are considerably less likely to invest in new technology, most likely due to cost investment restrictions.

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs says: “While it’s great to see that small businesses are reaping the benefits of hybrid work in terms of profitability, employee wellbeing and productivity, it’s important that SMEs don’t fall behind when it comes to technology adoption. “We need to ensure that there is a level playing field so that small businesses – which form the backbone of the UK economy – can access the right technology that will enable them to continue to benefit from hybrid work and retain the best talent. Businesses that successfully make the long term transition to hybrid working will be the ones who adopt the infrastructure and workplace policies that enable their employees to maintain high levels of creativity and collaboration, wherever they dial-in from. It’s therefore vital that small businesses can access comparable, yet cost-effective, levels of technology as their large business and enterprise counterparts.”

About Owl Labs

Owl Labs is a collaborative tech company making meetings more inclusive with immersive, 360-degree video devices. Built for modern businesses and classrooms, Owl Labs is dedicated to empowering hybrid and remote teams with its award-winning technology and robust product suite. The company’s flagship product, the Meeting Owl Pro, was honored as one of TIME’s Best Inventions and features a wifi-enabled, 360-degree camera, microphone, and speaker with proprietary AI technology. Owl Labs has raised $22 million in funding and is based in Boston, with remote and hybrid employees all over the world. To learn more about Owl Labs, visit