Small business owners, employees embracing work from home

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April 27, 2011 12:01 PM EST

Working from home has become the trend among small business owners and employees in Australia as they try to improve their ‘work/life balance’.

New research conducted for Telstra Business by analyst firm IDC shows the small business sector, the country’s biggest employer, is more mobile than ever before.

The comprehensive study found six out of 10 small businesses allow their staff to work from home, with both employers and employees keen to use technology to maximise flexibility and improve their lifestyles.

The report also found 65 per cent of small businesses have at least one staff member spending the majority of time outside of the office. More than a third (35 per cent) of small businesses have the majority of their staff working out of the office more than they work from it and 75 per cent of small businesses have some staff using laptops while 55 per cent have some staff using smart phones for work purposes.

This follows Telstra research showing more than a quarter of Australians spend more than five hours a week working away from their designated place of employment.

“The lines between home and office are increasingly blurred –in fact a large proportion of our customer base actually works from home,” Telstra Business Group Managing Director, Deena Shiff said.

“And they’re not what you might imagine a home-based business to be. Usually we’re talking about fast-growing start-ups playing a vital role in our economy. They are using the internet to target their products and services to a global market.

“Other research we have run has shown they are often run by women who have set up their own businesses to conveniently re-enter the workforce or to escape corporate life. Similarly, we’re seeing people setting up regional-based businesses as they seek a sea-change or tree-change escape.”

Ms Shiff said “The research shows most small businesses acknowledge they are not making the most out of the mobility solutions available and they find it difficult to keep up with the latest technology solutions.”

“For example, even though 61 percent of non-home based small businesses allow staff to work remotely, only 21 percent are equipped with network solutions that allow them to access computer files remotely. This potentially exposes them to real risks by having unsecured data.”

Ms Shiff said Telstra would be unveiling its plans to help Australian small businesses make the move to digital communications in coming weeks.

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