SMEs are masters of tech but slaves to Smartphones

Despite winning the battle against potentially confusing technology in the workplace, small business owners are feeling overwhelmed by the intrusion it causes in their personal lives, according to new research from specialist business insurer Hiscox.

The study analysed how UK business owners were coping with the ever-changing technology landscape and how they are handling the impact on their personal lives as they seek to keep up with changes. Positively, 89% of those surveyed felt they have mastered the use of technology in their business, finding it manageable. However, when it comes to their personal lives 38% admitted they have difficulty ‘switching off’ and work even when they shouldn’t be, negatively impacting on their private lives.

Alan Thomas, small business insurance expert at   Hiscox , comments on the findings: “As SMEs seek to keep their business running at all times, the option to clock off at 5pm is fast diminishing and being ‘switched on’ is becoming a normal way of life. Thanks to the reliance on, and access to technology, SMEs have become masters of technology but slaves to their work, and it’s no surprise they are leading a lifestyle where they are ‘always on'”.

“Our research confirms what we already know from working closely with them; SMEs are constantly connected to their workplace, incredibly tech savvy and committed to their business.”

Findings from the research:

Masters of technology

The majority of respondents (61%) keep up to date with technology recognising the importance of it in their business compared with 14% who don’t. More importantly, almost half (46%) would rather have something reliable that works even if it’s not the latest piece of equipment, followed by a quarter (26%) who only upgrade and update when absolutely necessary. 23% feel they need to adopt technology to compete and make that investment where they can and 11% find it difficult to keep up with the latest available technology due to the costs involved in buying the new technology and training staff. This is in contrast with only 10% of respondents who generally upgrade their equipment with new technology as soon as it’s available.

When it comes to future investments in technology, 59% of respondents currently plan to significantly invest in technology in the near future, either to purchase new equipment or upgrade existing equipment. Of these, 35% plan to do so in the next 12 months compared with 25% who plan to do so in the next two-three years.

Slaves to Smartphones

The research shows that SME owners are maintaining an ‘always on’ attitude when it comes to their business, working even when they shouldn’t be with 64% having made or received work related communications when it may not be appropriate, such as when in the cinema, at a museum or in a quiet train carriage. As this lifestyle becomes the norm, more SME owners (74%) feel they don’t have to hide the fact that they’re working when they shouldn’t be, from those around them, compared to 17% who feel they do.  As a result, 37% said they found work intrusive on their personal lives (compared with 23% who did not). The most common way of hiding that they were working was claiming to be doing something else (40%), followed by working while others think they are asleep (35%), taking a phone call relating to work but pretending it wasn’t (23%) and claimed to be going somewhere else while actually going to work (19%).

Small business owners are so connected to their technology that they are regularly accused of not being able to relax or wind down (25%), followed by another 24% who admitted that if they go for too long without checking their work emails / messages they start to feel anxious. However, unsurprisingly while on holiday 85% of SME’s are guilty of checking their work emails highlighting their inability to switch off.

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