Proportion of SME employees working from home is rising sharply

Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, many more SME employees have been working from home than before. However, only a third of all SMEs are able to let employees work from home at all. This is shown by a survey conducted by Gfs-Zurich.

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In the hospitality industry in particular, home office is hardly an option - 86 percent of hospitality businesses with between 4 and 49 employees cannot send any employees to the home office at all. But even in production and manufacturing, almost half of SMEs need all their employees on site.

According to a study, however, the switch to home office is easier in industries such as ICT and marketing or in the service sector. In these sectors, 87 and 83 percent of the managers surveyed said that they could have at least some of their staff work from home.

 

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The study, published on Tuesday, was commissioned by Digitalswitzerland, the umbrella organisation for digital Switzerland, Mobiliar, the Confederation's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the School of Business at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW).

According to the results of the survey, two-thirds of companies across all sectors are in a position to send all or part of their workforce to the home office if necessary.

 

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Fast conversion to home office

According to the study authors, it is also remarkable how quickly companies were able to switch to working from home during the lockdown. "For the majority of companies, working from home was possible without any problems or with simple measures," study author Karin Mändli Lerch from the JRC Zurich research institute told the media. However, it goes without saying that those companies that were already very digitally oriented were at an advantage during the changeover, she said.

During the lockdown, around 40 percent of employees at companies that can switch to a home office actually worked from home. Although this figure fell again after the lockdown, it was still considerably higher at the end of the survey in early October than before the lockdown. Overall, 10 percent of all employees worked from home before the lockdown, and 16 percent afterwards.

Mändli Lerch said that the development was particularly striking in companies that are active in ICT or marketing. "Here, 16 percent of employees were previously working in a home office, now it's 31 percent - so that's a doubling of the number." Whether this increase will be sustained in the longer term, however, is not yet clear, the study authors stressed. However, 29 percent of the companies indicated that they would increasingly allow their employees to work from home in the future. (SDA)

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Gfs-Zurich surveyed 503 CEOs of companies with 4 to 49 employees throughout Switzerland on the impact of the Corona crisis on digitalization and cybersecurity in Swiss SMEs.

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