Fewer than one in ten small and medium businesses in Ireland are embracing remote or flexible working.
This is despite the fact that a majority of SME employees are in favour of such working conditions, according to a study of nearly 600 small businesses carried out by Vodafone.
Smart working is the combined use of technology with flexibility and agility for employees to work from home or co-working hub or hybrid model. One in three employees see it as top priority in their current role, while half of SME employees feel that it will be in a future job.
While Brexit is repeatedly highlighted as a concern for many businesses, nearly 90pc of SMEs are predicting growth between now and 2021.
This optimism was shared by employees, with nearly two thirds expressing confidence about the future prospects of their company. Munster is the most optimistic region, with 67pc of SME employees living in the region feeling confident about the future prospects of their company.
When asked about investment, 60pc of SME business owners surveyed confirmed that they plan to invest in their business within the next 12 months; with the majority (71pc) being spent on staff attraction and retention.
This is followed by sales, cited by two thirds as an area of investment and technology & digital tools (57pc).
When looking at digital skills, 22pc of employees felt that they did not have the necessary skills required for their role, with a further one in five unsure whether they had the relevant digital skills required.
Commenting on the findings, Sven Spollen-Behrens from the Small Firms Association said that the economy is growing and so is Ireland’s SME sector.
“However, we need to take measures to protect this growth.”
“Whilst we are seeing confidence among our members we also see concerns around our competitiveness especially in light of Brexit. Challenges like attracting and retaining talent, the increasing cost of doing business in Ireland and a tax system that puts smaller businesses at a disadvantage need to be addressed.”
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