Scottish SMEs thrive in a home working environment, however many still fear Brexit fallout

Chris Manson, CEO of Newable

65% of Scottish SMEs stated they enjoy working from home and 79% reported an increase or no change in productivity, according to the third Newable Small Business Confidence Index. The exclusive survey of SME decision makers by Newable, the leading provider of money, advice and workspace to SMEs, also reveals that 57% of Scottish SMEs feel the Brexit fallout is the biggest challenge facing U.K. small to medium businesses aside from Covid-19 – compared to only 30% nationally. This suggests that Scottish SMEs are less optimistic about Britain’s future outside of the European Union.

Positivity towards home working amongst Scottish SME is prevalent, with only 41% of respondents from Scotland noting they want to work in an office full time. This is even lower nationally, where only 33% of SMEs favour returning to the office full time.  24% of SMEs in Scotland would like a hybrid working pattern, splitting time between home working and working from an office. Despite a relatively popular result for hybrid working – only 43% of Scottish SMEs stated that their companies are prepared for hybrid working, compared to 66% nationally. Physical office spaces appear ready for this shift in working patterns with 81% of Scottish SMEs stating they believe their current offices are Covid-19 secure, with the cost of the commute being the highest voted reason at 24% for respondents not wanting to work in an office more often.

The survey also reveals that human interaction is the most missed part of office working (27%), followed by team contribution. Interestingly, 57% of SMEs in Scotland stated that human interaction at work is of importance, compared to 85% nationally and 94% in London. The data suggests that SMEs in Scotland place less emphasis on human interaction when choosing a desired style of working – further supported by only 32% of respondents stating the lack of interaction has hampered innovation and creativity.

With the U.K. slowly emerging from its third lockdown, 52% of respondents reported either ‘positive’ or ‘no impact’ on revenue from Covid-19 with majority of SMEs in Scotland (50%) stating they are not delaying investment decisions because of the pandemic, compared to 32% nationally – suggesting Scottish SMEs are more risk tolerant when it comes to investment.

Despite positive sentiment around Covid-19’s impact so far, Scottish SMEs appear worried about the U.K’s pandemic recovery with 70% stating they believe the economy will take over 24 months to recover, whereas nationally, SMEs seem more optimistic with 65% stating they think it will recover in less than 24 months.

 Chris Manson, CEO of Newable, comments : “it is reassuring to see that Scottish SMEs have been working successfully from home but it is clear they are still cautious about the future as we start the road to recovery after what has been a challenging year for all of UK’s small and medium businesses. What is clear with all our research is that SMEs want a more agile and hybrid working style and here at Newable we have begun helping small businesses set up a hybrid working model for their employees by rolling out suburban work hubs as we expect to see central and conventional office portfolios shrink as space is repurposed for team collaboration.”

The exclusive Newable Small Business Confidence Index reflects the views of 1,003 small businesses across a wide variety of sectors including marketing, PR, financial services, travel and recruitment.

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