Running a business is no walk in the park, anyone who has any considerable amount of experience will tell you that much. Luckily, the digital age promises to make things easier for entrepreneurs. In Australia, 50% of the population is classified as digital workers, or people who make use of the Internet to do their jobs outside of the office. And the research also shows that the fact that the structure is so much more flexible means that employees are also becoming more productive. Also, according to research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, there are currently 5.6-million adults using the net for working after hours, or to be able to work from home. 5.6-million people equates to 51% of the population at the time the research was conducted. And, interestingly, 70% of those working from home have a university degree.
Not surprisingly, this shift has led to a shift in actual office space architecture and operations with more businesses making use of the conveniences of short-term office space. As companies are requiring less desk space, they can take out fully inclusive lease packages that take care of their administrative and front of house reception needs.
Remote workplaces also appear to be more popular among SMBs with fewer staff members. 39% of SMBs with fewer than 20 staff members allowed their employees at least one day a week working from home. Among businesses with between 20 and 199 employees the number of employees working from home increased to 55%.
And, with statistics affirming that more local consumers are going online for their entertainment, shopping or socialising, local businesses are under pressure to follow suit. Analysts say that the internet has become entrenched as a part of life for the average consumer and businesses that do not get in there while they can are likely to miss out.
Mobility appears to be most popular in the business services sector, property and communications, where sales people generally are coming in and out of the office often. The experts say that if you took the internet away, staff operating in these areas would probably still act in the same way, but the internet has made it easier and more productive for them to stay connected to rest of the office.
Yet, at the same time, new data shows that 57% of Australian locals cite digital illiteracy as one of the major challenges of running their businesses optimally. The report shows that small and medium businesses are not meeting their potential because of low levels of technological understanding.
And, with small businesses responsible for so much economic activity down under it is vital for business owners to bring themselves up to speed, and quickly. According to the experts, technology holds something for everyone regardless of whether they operate in the private or public sector, where they operate from and which demographic group they fall into.
The report shows that while 65% of those interviewed considered the online marketplace to be an important growth area, a mere 14% were actually using the web for business.
Furthermore, the data also shows that consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the Internet as a source of information about small and medium businesses. But, only 34% of local businesses are listing their details on the Internet.
Online payments via mobile phones are also becoming more popular as consumers have relaxed a little more regarding online security issues. But again, business owners appear to forget they are also consumers and, as such, only 43% of SMBs use a smart phone to access the net and only 23% do it with a tablet.
Businesses that are still holding back on online transactions are reminded that there are more effective security options available for processing online payments these days. Mobile penetration has also reached impressive levels and is an essential marketing and relationship channel that small and medium sized businesses need to cultivate. Only 8% are using the cloud for business storage and 22% have invested in online advertising.