It is somewhat of an understatement to say that COVID-19 has disrupted the way many Australian businesses operate.
After the initial panic and a sense of the unknown, it can be easily argued that many changes have been made for the better. A global study from Atlassian reveals that almost 7 in 10 Australian workers say their job satisfaction and work-life balance has improved since the shift to remote work.
From diversification of supply chains through to hybrid working practices, COVID-19 is the most significant business transformation catalyst of all time. Nearly every industry has been disrupted and has learnt to adapt accordingly. What has been evident is that small and medium businesses (SMBs), the lifeblood of the Australian economy, have found a way to adapt, survive and thrive on a typically greater scale than many larger counterparts. Why is this the case?
While start-ups and SMBs may potentially lack budget, in-house resources and expertise, they have a number of factors that have worked in their favour throughout the pandemic that they utilised to their advantage. In an era where the buzzwords of ‘flexibility’ and ‘pivoting’ have been put to the test, smaller businesses have revelled in this professional freedom.
With less employees and decidedly less red tape, SMBs have been able to make smart and timely business decisions. They have an innate culture of embracing the unknown and thinking on their feet, which has served them well. It is closely intertwined with an agile working strategy, which involves a mindset shift to pave the way for how we will work in the future.
The pandemic has also forced some organisations to relax usual approval processes, in order to push key decisions forward - I cite the example of schools having to adapt, almost overnight, requiring both hardware and software technology to be purchased and implemented for students, when that would have normally been a process spread over months or even years.
It is also not merely from an operations standpoint where the benefits can be seen - smaller businesses know that they need to be able to offer suitable working arrangements, technology and benefits in order to compete with large businesses. More often than not, the key to this is their flexible working culture, something that employees crave more than anything else in this modern age; according to Hays Salary Guide 2021.
The pandemic has enabled smaller businesses to re-think their approach towards technology investment. A recent study by ASUS and IDC Research, showed that 40% of APAC SMBs are actively looking to invest in technologies that will enable them to become more resilient in the future, with 39% of Australian SMB participants specifically picking out laptops as an area they will be investing in to drive productivity. On top of this, the report also showed that 63% of Australia’s millennials said mobility is pivotal in laptop purchase decisions, which included all day battery life, lightweight, fast charging and compact size. Organisations therefore need to rethink their approach by shortening refresh cycles to allow a more regular assessment of technology trends and business requirements. In that regard, we have seen a big uptake in laptops as SMBs’ strive to provide the best experience for their employees.
The last 18 months have certainly shown that those businesses that are prepared to invest in the right areas and embrace change rather than resist it, are those that will benefit most in the current climate and beyond.