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SME customers embracing hybrid working at a fast pace

Smaller businesses appear to have taken to a hybrid working world much more easily than their enterprise-sized counterparts

The small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market is adapting more quickly to a hybrid working world when compared to larger enterprises, and is receptive to technologies that will support increased productivity.

The latest instalment of Quocirca’s research into home printing in the hybrid workplace showed some encouraging results for those in the channel that target the SME customer base and gave some idea of where enterprise users are lagging behind.

The analyst firm found that when it came to a range of measures, including employee productivity, security, policies and support for home-based workers, SME customers were ahead of enterprise-sized operations.

The report also confirmed that hybrid working was becoming the norm, with the vast majority of respondents expecting to continue to allow home- and office-based working to continue in the next 12 months. Only 20% expected to return to the office full-time, with that figure falling to 10% among large businesses.

For the print channel, those trends mean there are issues around shadow IT, with 54% of people using an unapproved device to print at home, and there were very low levels of security awareness, which meant many customers could be exposing themselves to risk.

Home print volumes continued to rise, with 63% printing more away from the office than they did a year ago. Some of the response to that has been an increase in ink subscription sign-ups. Again, the SME customer base is ahead of the curve, with 5% already getting supplies via subscription, compared with just 27% in large enterprises.

“These findings point to a two-speed transition to hybrid working, where small and mid-sized companies are accelerating away from larger, less agile businesses,” said Quocirca research director Louella Fernandes. “They are more proactive about addressing security issues and are providing more support for home workers, who, in turn, report higher productivity.

“Employees in larger companies feel less productive than their SME counterparts, which is concerning because this group is the most likely to continue working from home. It may derive from the fact that bigger companies have larger teams who may need more support to collaborate effectively. They may also have more legacy processes, making it harder to digitise as rapidly as smaller, more agile organisations.

“If large enterprises are to succeed with hybrid working, they must urgently address these issues to better support the remote workforce.”

The emerging situation adds up to a channel opportunity, at both SME and enterprise level, with both sets of customers looking for different levels of support.

“There is a major opportunity for channel companies to offer tailored support to newly hybrid organisations to help them transition securely and cost-effectively,” said Fernandes. “Managed print service providers should be developing services that incorporate home device and consumables provision, particularly for enterprise customers.”

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