Small business owners say remote work has made them better leaders

Three in five small business owners admitted feeling more empathetic toward their employees and colleagues since working from home during the pandemic, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 small business owners looked at how working remotely has impacted their company — for better or worse.

The results showed that more than half of respondents agree that working from home has made their experience of leading a team easier and more productive (56%).

And seven in 10 said the change had given them certain business opportunities they wouldn’t have had before.

Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with Field Effect, the survey also found that most small business owners have improved their relationship with their employees by trusting them more (63%) and having better communication (55%).

Working from home has also allowed more businesses to see an increase in customers (46% vs. 25% who have lost customers) and sales (42%).

But sometimes, working remotely isn’t all that it’s made up to be — especially since nearly half of respondents agree that running their businesses primarily from home has proven to be more challenging than they anticipated (48%).

More than half said the occasional office trip energizes them (55%). Others enjoy periodic returns because they don’t have the same capacity to oversee all aspects of their business from home (41%).

Business owners are busier than ever, with 47% saying they wear more hats than before the pandemic by taking on roles like marketing or bookkeeping.

And 41% have had to cut down a significant amount of costs in supplies (41%), business space (offices, storefront, etc.) (39%) or their own salary (37%).

“In the face of uncertainty and rapidly changing business conditions, small business owners continue to prove their resiliency and adaptability,” said Andrew Milne, chief revenue officer at Field Effect. “The fact that they have been able to overcome the inherent challenges in building a business from home, while still seeking out new business opportunities and customers is remarkable.”

Respondents also voiced their concerns regarding their businesses’ network security.
More than a third of owners worry about their businesses’ cyber security than ever before (39%).

This comes as no surprise, as most business owners said they depend on strong cyber security to keep their businesses intact (57%).

Thirty-eight percent said they’re worried that there’s an increased threat to their business regarding cyber security since working from home, specifically when working from personal devices (58%), receiving phishing emails or having insecure home wifi (56% each).

Other concerns include ensuring passwords aren’t weak and protecting their computer against malware (55% each).

One in five small business owners have even encountered a cyber breach, phishing or scam since working from home (22%), and most have been reluctant to admit that it could have been avoided if they were back in their workspace (64%).

“While cyberattacks against small and medium-sized businesses continue to grow, working remotely doesn’t have to mean sacrificing security,” Milne said. “Accessing complete cyber protection that is simple to use and cost-effective is now a reality.”

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SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.