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How SMEs can afford the permanent switch to remote working

Covid-19 has caused a huge increase in remote working and this shift is set to become permanent. As a result of this change in working conditions, firms must invest in homeworking arrangements. How can small businesses afford it?

As the business sector slowly emerges from lockdown and begins to reopen according to the constraints imposed by Covid-19, it is clear that the temporary solution of remote working is going to be a lot more permanent for many firms.

While homeworking is not suitable for all businesses, or indeed for all employees at firms where it is an option, the number of people working at home is at an unprecedented level, and this level is unlikely to change a great deal, at least in the short term.

Quick fix homeworking arrangements need to be reviewed

What this means for businesses is that they need to review homeworking policies. While the taking home of devices at the beginning of lockdown was an acceptable quick fix, five months later, with remote-working practices remaining in place for many firms, businesses need to ensure that homeworkers have all the resources that they need and that their working conditions are healthy and meet relevant statutory requirements.

For example, going forward, businesses have a duty of care to ensure that employees have a proper work station at home: a suitably sized desk, a wheeled chair with an adjustable back support and a device with a separate tiltable keypad.

The potential consequences of failing to ensure that homeworking employees have a proper workstation are neck, shoulder, back, arm and wrist pain, or fatigue and eye strain. These conditions will have a negative impact on employee productivity and performance.

So, it is in firms’ best interests to properly equip employees that are working from home. This means significant investment in hardware and software, and while large companies have the resources to manage this transition, smaller businesses are in a much more difficult position.

How can small businesses afford homeworking investment?

How can small firms afford the investment in remote working at a time when they are battling for survival?

Alternative finance can help.

In the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, alternative finance facilities such as invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for safeguarding cashflow and for essential investment. These facilities, which offer a more personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and grow.

Tellingly, alternative finance is playing a key role in the government’s Covid-19 business support strategy, in particular with regard to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers access to a range of finance facilities, including alternative finance services.

Awareness of all SME funding options is critical

The investment required to ensure that employees working from home are properly equipped is yet another indicator of the immense pressure that small businesses are under. As such, it is crucial that owners are aware of all the funding options available to them, from the government’s emergency support schemes to mainstream lending facilities, including alternative finance.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Steve Bowles on 01903 602211 or steve.bowles@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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