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Small business owners shoulder the worst of the pandemic’s aftereffects

- November 17, 2020 2 MIN READ

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on ways of working has undoubtedly affected all workplaces. However according to new findings, small business owners are struggling the most with 3 in 5 unable to carry out normal business.

The aftereffects of COVID are far and many. Government-mandated lockdowns, social distancing restrictions and economic uncertainty are a few. A recent report by Findex, one of Australia’s largest accounting and financial services firms, has found that larger businesses are bouncing back from the pandemic much faster than smaller businesses. 

3 in 5 businesses with 1,000 employees or more reported they were largely unaffected by COVID. This ability to pivot faster is due to their pre-pandemic resources. These businesses had investments in hardware, systems and tools that enabled a smooth shift to remote working.

Comparatively, smaller businesses with less resources are still struggling to find their bearings. “Small businesses are less likely to have made this investment, or deliver services requiring physical shopfronts to be operational. They have consequently struggled to adapt and been hit harder by COVID,” says Thomas Paul, Findex’s Chief Digital, Technology and Marketing Officer.

Surveying 280 organisations across Australia and New Zealand, Findex found the majority of small business owners struggled to adjust to working in the disrupted lockdown environment. On the other hand, 40 per cent of businesses with 500 employees or more reported the change actually increased their productivity.

Although most employees and business owners surveyed had never worked from home before, a whopping 1 in 5 do not want to return to the office full time at all. It seems working from home has worked extremely well, as two thirds of workers want to maintain remote working for a few days a week moving forward.

“COVID-19 has likely accelerated the advancement of flexible work by decades and given us the opportunity to finally build a culture that allows long-overdue work flexibility,” says Thomas. A change in employee ways of working must be considered for small businesses scouting for the best talent. 

Apart from resources and changes to ways of working, another key to success during COVID for larger businesses was having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). One third of businesses with a BCP reported higher productivity during the lockdown. “There are commercial rewards for investing in futureproofing and contingency planning. The investment, resourcing and skills in preparing BCPs can often be out of reach for small businesses, whose main focus is the day-the-day,” says Thomas.

Although small business owners are the worst hit by the pandemic, this does not mean they cannot recover. Having a future-oriented outlook and adaptability to changing work environments is a must for growth.

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