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Study Finds SMBs Failing to Keep Up with Demands of a Mobile Workforce

Monday Dec 16th 2019 by Jeff Goldman

Fully 71 percent of SMB employees still use desktops as their main device.

While 79 percent of SMB decision makers believe their companies offer a good employee experience, fully 40 percent of SMB employees worldwide are dissatisfied with their work environments, according to a recent Forrester Consulting survey of 813 employees and 803 device buyers at companies worldwide with less than 1,000 employees.

The study, commissioned by Lenovo, suggests that SMBs are failing to keep up with the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce – 71 percent of respondents still use desktops as their main device (just 28 percent use a laptop as a main device, and just 1 percent use a tablet), and 74 percent have no access to cloud based tools and no flexibility to choose the technologies that best fit their needs.

Just 13 percent of SMBs have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.

"SMBs pioneered the now widely held ideas about the mobile workforce," Lenovo vice president of global user and customer experience Dilip Bhatia said in a statement. "However, this notion is unmatched in SMB organizations' ability to offer their own employees more flexible technology for a better employee experience."

Improving the Environment

Fully 38 percent of SMB employees say they're not in an environment that helps them to be productive – key issues include noise and activities in the physical environment (60 percent), technology issues such as computers crashing and software updates (38 percent), personal activities on their devices such as social media and online shopping (38 percent), and emails and instant messages on their work devices (37 percent).

While 78 percent of employees who feel they're productive also say they're satisfied at work, just 23 percent of employee who don't believe they're productive say they're satisfied. 

Similarly, while more than 80 percent of productive employees are satisfied with their experience using work devices, just 47 percent of less productive employees feel the same way. Key sources of dissatisfaction with work devices include insufficient features (29 percent), frequent malfunctions (21 percent), and device end of life (16 percent). 

Focusing on Productivity

The good news is that SMB device buyers seem to get it – 87 percent of device buyers said improving employee productivity is a high or critical priority for their business in the next 12 months.

"While benefits and financial incentives remain important for attracting and retaining staff, SMB efforts must also be willing to invest in future tools and technology that are mobile, flexible and inclusive," Bhatia said.

A separate Microsoft study of Asia Pacific SMBs found that 36 percent are using PCs over four years old and running older operating systems, and 54 percent don't have a PC refresh policy.

"Techology can be a real enabler for businesses both small and large, and SMBs should continue to recognize the value that IT investment can bring to their present and future growth," Microsoft Asia channel and device marketing lead Belinda Widgery said in a statement.

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