It’s Time for SMBs to Seize New Future of Work Opportunities

3 min read

September 19, 2022

The thing about ordinary, everyday truths is that they’re still valid, and you need to reckon with them. And the truth is that the world is changing. Coming out of the disruption of the past few years, how the world of work is changing is becoming more apparent. Challenges remain, but there are also opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to set a course for sustained success.

This recent report based on the SMB Group’s new study, SMB Directions for the Future of Work, outlines how successful SMBs are adapting to the shifting terrain. The report reveals two main challenges to navigating ongoing changes and preparing for a prosperous future.

The first is that there’s been a significant power shift from employers to employees. It has, in many ways and many sectors, become a seller’s market for employees’ skills, expertise, and time. As a result, competition between businesses to attract and retain the best people is intense.

The other significant challenge is the importance of switching to longer-term strategic thinking. Businesses are reviewing decisions they made to survive during the pandemic. And many are realizing those decisions have led to disjointed technology solutions, overly complex processes, and inefficient systems.

Businesses that successfully weathered the recent storms are now changing their strategies to mitigate the risk of future disruption and create ways to regain momentum and progress their business. These businesses share three primary attributes that have made them optimistic about their future:

  • Resilience
  • A People-first Mindset
  • Agility

1. Resilience

Digital transformation has undoubtedly contributed to making businesses more resilient. But organizations are still facing substantial headwinds in the immediate future that are out of their control: rising inflation, supply chain issues, and more.

Many digital transformation strategies adopted over the past few years were applied reactively and ad hoc. Businesses implemented disjointed technologies, putting multiple systems into place that don’t necessarily play nice with one another. And many of the solutions they ended up with were needlessly complex. These systems may buckle in a changing environment or face additional pressure.

The report points to unified and simplified technologies' role in making businesses more resilient. This is particularly true for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) options. Industry-leading UCaaS systems bring market-leading features like advanced messaging, phone, and video together in one app, centralizing and simplifying communication. By bringing internal and external communications together, teammates can collaborate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers.

These tools are essential in an environment where employees increasingly expect to be enabled with easy-to-use and powerful apps. Considering employees hold many cards these days, employers would be remiss if they didn’t take these expectations seriously.

2. Putting People First

As important as technology is, it is simply an enabler. Running a successful business is ultimately about people: your employees and your customers.

Unsurprisingly, the report identifies people as a significant priority for businesses that want to future-proof their operations and continue to thrive. Consider how our conception of work has changed. Hybrid work, once a rare offering for unusual circumstances, has been fully embraced by both employees and employers: 90% of SMBs surveyed that have adopted hybrid work have identified it as being valuable or very valuable. And for job seekers, hybrid work is a significant priority: 82% of applicants to a well-known job board said they’d feel more loyal to their employers if work environments were more flexible.

There’s also a flip side to this. When many businesses switched to a digital workplace, much of the focus was on the technology needed to facilitate it, not on the people who would ultimately be using that technology. Working remotely exposed significant gaps in the digital employee experience, with some employees feeling they’ve been left on their own to manage multiple incongruous technologies without timely support when they need it.

Simplified and UC tools that bring together multiple modes of communication make it easy for people to work together and work flexibly. Collaboration across geographies is faster and easier for employees, ensuring they feel supported no matter where they work. Using centralized, cloud-based tools eliminates the hassle of deploying and managing systems in multiple locations and helps keep your business agile.

3. Getting and Staying Agile

The agility new technologies provide has proven to be a fundamental enabler of growth. The report shows that 79% of SMBs committed to technology adoption and investment anticipate revenue increases.

The reason is simple. Many businesses have discovered that the customer experience is directly correlated to the employee experience. Happy, productive employees have happy, productive interactions with customers. And agility enabled by new technologies is fundamental to employee happiness because it allows them to work effectively from anywhere and still deliver excellent customer service.

For example, the ability to quickly introduce expanded e-commerce offerings is necessary to meet changing consumer demands and expectations. This requires an agile process pivot, both at the business and employee levels, and only businesses ready for both can do it successfully.

Giving employees the ability to quickly adapt to changes like this while still working in a hybrid or remote environment without struggling with outdated technology is crucial to an employer’s ability to attract and retain top talent.

The Path Forward

Get more insights from SMB Directions for the Future of Work on how successful businesses navigate today’s uncertain times and plan for a bright and prosperous future. Then see how Mitel and RingCentral have teamed up to help you create a resilient, people-first, agile work environment.

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