UK SMEs are upping their use of cloud services in a bid to cater to more flexible working practices, recently released research from the BT Business and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) suggests.
According to a survey of over 300 decision makers working in small and medium-sized business in the UK, nine out of ten (91 per cent) of companies have at least one member of staff working from home, and a fifth of businesses (19 per cent) said more than half of their workforce working away from their main office location.
The BCC said the results are directly linked to growing cloud service use. About 69 per cent of businesses use cloud-based applications, and more than half (53 per cent) saying that they are critical to effective remote working.
As one might have guessed, internet connectivity was also rated quite highly on the list of core elements required to effectively facilitate flexible working (63 per cent), and smartphones are seen as the technology that has made the biggest difference to businesses in the last 12 months (according to 68 per cent of respondents).
“It is vital to ensure that UK businesses have access to world-class digital infrastructure if they are to maintain their competitiveness in a global marketplace,” said Adam Marshall, executive director of policy and external affairs, BCC.
“Cloud and mobile technologies are becoming increasingly important as firms expand into new markets and explore new ways of working – especially overseas. It is encouraging to see that so many British firms are adapting their working practices to take advantage of these developments,” he added.
Legislation that came into effect last summer means employees in the UK with over 26 weeks service are eligible to request flexible working hours, allowing more employees to set up home offices and work remotely. Research from the Office for National Statistics found that in the first three months of 2014, 4.2 million staff across the country worked from home, equating to 13.9 per cent of the workforce, a figure that is only set to grow since the law’s passing.