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UK SME workforce becoming increasingly mobile

Mobility infographic


UK SMEs are increasingly likely to see their workforce as ‘mobile’, with more than four in every ten (42%) now classing their workforce in this way, according to the findings from Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of more than 900 UK SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors.

“As mobile technology develops, it’s becoming increasingly easy for workers to remain connected with the office,” said Colin Swanston, Director of Close Brothers Asset Finance in Scotland. “This brings with it a number of advantages, including access to critical work applications at all times; the ability to access content from anywhere, and more engaged employees that comes from increased location flexibility.

“As always; however, it’s important to strike a note of caution because along with the upsides of mobility, there comes a number of crucial challenges, the most critical of which is security. UK firms do not see better online security as a priority - according to our research, 63% of companies have made the decision not to invest in better online security in the next 12 months. 

“The truth is, businesses of all sizes should be aware of their responsibility when it comes to online security, but we’re finding that this message is perhaps not getting through as clearly as it could, with nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents saying that mobile security is not a concern for their business, with only 27% of the opinion that it is. This is surprising considering the number of high-profile data breaches that have received extensive coverage in the mainstream media.” 

To help businesses better understand mobility, Close Brothers Technology Services has released a vendor spotlight – in association with IDC – 'Making sure that mobility works for your business'

Increased productivity? 

A large minority (39%) of business owners are of the opinion that increased mobility does not necessarily bring with it increased productivity. 

“There isn’t necessarily the implied expectation that mobility is a tool to increase productivity,” continued Colin. “Being mobile is not the perk that perhaps it was in the past, meaning it doesn’t come with the implicit expectations that it used to.”

Do you feel mobility increase your employees’ productivity?

  • Yes 29%
  • Unsure 32%
  • No 39%

Investment levels in mobility 

Planned levels of investment in mobility during 2017 are low, with only 15% answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘is your business intending to invest in mobility in 2017?’. 52% answered ‘no’ while the remaining 33% were unsure. 

“Many businesses will already feel they’ve invested significantly in mobility, so these results should not come as a surprise,” said Sean Callanan, Director of Technology and Services. “What you are likely to see, though, is businesses dedicating more and more of their IT spend to keeping their workforce both mobile and safe.

“What we are starting to see is a move towards alternative ways of acquiring hardware, including a move away from mobile network operators for their hardware to other sources, including leasing. This gives them more flexibility to, for example, make changes without being tied into long-term contracts. 

“We’re seeing this trend within our own business as well as with our customers.”

On the theme of investment, 71% answered in the negative when asked ‘has your company invested in a mobile application that gives them access to company data on the move?’ . 

“Although many companies have invested in applications for customers, what we haven’t seen as much of is the same level of focus on apps for employees,” continued Sean. “This is potentially the next growth area, and brings with it an increased need to ensure data security and integrity.”