Productivity the top concern as more and more SMBs shift to remote working: Survey

Ensuring productivity is almost twice as important as the next closest concerns of security (for employers), and communication (for employees)

Productivity the top concern as more and more SMBs shift to remote working: Survey - CIO&Leader

More than 98% of small and medium-sized business (SMB) respondents now have a remote workforce, a 43% increase since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, according to ActivTrak survey. With the majority of teams now working from home, companies surveyed rank productivity as the top concern of both employers and employees. In fact, ensuring productivity is almost twice as important as the next closest concerns of security (for employers), and communication (for employees).

The survey of 167 companies captures input from a wide range of SMBs, with the largest numbers in Software/Services (14%), Construction/Engineering (11%), and Other (10%) categories, and ranging in size from 51-250 (34%), 11-50 (25%), and 1-10 (19%) employees.

Mirroring companies’ productivity concerns, 86% of respondents ranked productivity tools as the most important technologies for supporting a remote workforce, followed by conferencing tools and live chat tools. Coincidently, these interest levels also reflect the increased use of such tools across a recent sampling of ActivTrak’s 6,500 customers.

From March 15 to April 15 (post-shelter), more than 300 SMBs from ActivTrak’s customer base spent 82% more time in remote communication tools such as Zoom, Skype, RingCentral, and Slack, compared to the prior 30-day period (pre-shelter). When looking at collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, LogMeIn and Trello, that figure jumps to 94%.

Yet despite seeking to empower employees to work remotely, 41% of SMB employers have not created a dedicated remote work policy that offers clear guidelines and expectations for how to do so. More than half of the SMB companies surveyed confirm they plan to re-evaluate their remote workforce expectations for employees following the pandemic.

Additional data on recent remote workforce trends found:

  • Nearly 50% rank productivity as their top concern, followed by security/compliance (19%) and collaboration and communication (13%)
  • When asked about technology tools for remote workers:

    • More than 80% rank productivity tools the most important
    • Nearly 75% select conferencing tools as their top pick
    • More than 70% choose live chat tools over other options
  • 42% believe personal productivity is also a top concern among employees
  • Software/Services is the largest category of respondents
  • Construction/Engineering had the largest increase (58%) in companies supporting remote workers post-COVID

Respondents also cited group chats, daily team pulse checks, collective and individual awards, and scavenger hunts and games as things they are doing to maintain company culture and boost morale remotely.

“The speed and scale with which teams have had to convert to a remote workforce has been truly impressive, and in many ways, I think companies have been surprised to see how well they’ve been able to do so,” said Rita Selvaggi, CEO of ActivTrak. “We’re already hearing from customers that many of them plan to shift some employees to working remotely on a permanent basis, and that ActivTrak’s workforce productivity and analytics software will continue to be a key enabler in helping them achieve that goal.”


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