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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses have pivoted and transformed into virtual companies, some temporarily, others permanently. How has that pivot impacted company performance? Zoho, a global technology company, just released a study of employees at large and small businesses in the United States and Canada showing that while companies “excelled in the areas of traditional management,” the employees rated their employers’ technology harshly, calling it “outdated” and “inefficient for company performance.”

The study was conducted this spring, during the first surge of the coronavirus. The employees surveyed gave their employers high marks when it came to goal setting, alignment, and inspiring performance.

Even though their work lives were disrupted by office closures, workers felt their employers supported them through the shift to remote work.  

Overall Job Satisfaction

Taking a deep dive into what employees at U.S. small businesses thought, the survey found in most cases, employees are happy with their jobs:

  • 67.5 percent of those surveyed are “highly-satisfied” with the work they do, and a similar percentage enjoy their jobs
  • 66.7 percent say their jobs provide them with “meaningful work they can take pride in”
  • 62.5 percent say they know what their managers expect of them
  • However, 17.5 percent say they have “no visibility” on their employers’ direction or the big picture

Struggling with Communication and Technology

However, when it comes to communications and technology, employees are less satisfied. In general, many employees (though still mostly a minority) say their current company’s technology infrastructure and systems need an overhaul.

  • A whopping 85 percent say it’s not possible to get a 360-degree view of customers without having to look at multiple systems. This is a crucial stat since many businesses have experienced how fragile the customer/client relationship is during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 56 percent complain the computing systems they’re using are not conducive to their work
  • 35.8 percent say multichannel internal communications are not articulated clearly
  • 34.2 percent say there’s only sporadic internal communication
  • 31.7 percent say the technology infrastructure at their company is not adequate to keep them aligned with company goals when working remotely
  • 30 percent say the technology infrastructure at their company is not adequate to maintain company culture when working remotely
  • 27.5 percent say work is “chaotic” due to a lack of integrated systems
  • 22.5 percent say the apps they use are not intuitive and are difficult to integrate
  • 19.2 percent say the technology infrastructure at their company does not support private multi-mode communication with their managers
  • 12.5 say it is not easy to communicate with their peers 

Ironically, you would think technology would make remote work easier. But, says Raju Vegesna, the chief evangelist at Zoho, “Going to the office, as a concept, started during the Industrial Revolution, when workers needed to travel to factories to use heavy equipment. With the cloud and online tools accessible from anywhere (including your home), we are back to a pre-Industrial Revolution era. This means that the right tools have to be made available for employees to be productive. Unfortunately, as the survey [reveals], this is not currently the case. This has to change for employees to be successful.”

The study was conducted by Beagle Research Group. Denis Pombriant, the managing principal at Beagle says, “The inevitable conclusion from this data is that if companies want to improve their performances, they should look first at the technology systems that support their primary business activities.”

If you’re one of the many small businesses that pivoted to virtual operation, this study is a timely reminder to check in with your employees to see what’s working for them and what’s not. Are they experiencing communications issues? Is their technology an asset or is it actually hindering their performance? Remember, your experience as the boss is not necessarily the same one your employees are going through.

Not sure how to make the transformation into a virtual company (whether temporary or permanent) a smooth one? A SCORE mentor can help you pivot. Contact one today.

About the Author(s)

 Rieva  Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media
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