|—||Brian Sloan is Head of Business and Economic Policy at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. He was talking with the city’s Key 103 radio station, as part its Making Business In Manchester series, supported by Regus. Manchester is home to nine Regus business centres.|
The reign of the traditional office as the workspace of choice for small and medium-sized businesses may be coming to an end.
Our recent survey found nearly 60% of executives predicting that future workstyles would reduce the need for office space. Six out of ten also said they can already work effectively outside the workspace, thanks to mobile and remote connectivity technology.
If people no longer need to work at a fixed desk in a fixed office, they no longer need to commute through urban traffic to a central business district. With the right technology and connectivity, they can work wherever it suits them. The 63.5% of people who told Regus they don’t want to commute for more than 20 minutes a day could see their wish granted.
In this changing work landscape, many SMEs / SMBs have an advantage over their larger counterparts: they’re not yet lumbered with the baggage of the central business district presence. They don’t yet have the problem of extricating themselves from an expensive HQ, or the associated change management and HR challenges.
Instead, growing small and medium-sized enterprises can evolve using the power of virtual technology. The growth of cloud computing will make this way of working easier and more affordable than ever before.
One working option especially suited to SMEs / SMBs is a ‘buy your own’ workspace approach - in the same way they may offer employees a budget to buy the most appropriate computer. Staff could have an annual budget to choose the workspace and support that suits their job and objectives.
Reluctant commuters and expanding SMEs / SMBs appreciate the benefits of virtual work. However, more established businesses must learn to quantify its benefits. The traditional one-person-one-desk approach calculates real estate costs according to rents per sqm. But this doesn’t quantify the benefits of virtual working. It doesn’t measure the benefits of a happier workforce; of lower churn; of a reduced carbon footprint; of access to a wider talent pool; of how employees who work apart but connect better can deliver projects more efficiently.
Many small companies instinctively know these benefits. The challenge is for larger companies to learn from their example, and for their smaller, growing counterparts to avoid getting sucked into the old ways of working. Instead of aspiring to impressive old-style corporate premises, they should nurture the innate advantage they already have: agility. Virtual working and flexible space are the way to make this happen.
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business. Sure, the iPad is a great device for viewing videos and photos, playing games and surfing the web, but it can also be …
Guest Blog: StartUp Britain: post launch + 2 months
National campaign, StartUp Britain was launched on 28 March meaning the campaign has just passed its second month. Emma Jones is one of the campaign founders and offers an update on how the campaign is doing and how you might like to get involved.
For anyone not aware of the campaign, StartUp Britain aims to encourage more people to start a business and support existing businesses to grow. It does this by shining a spotlight on useful resources and opening up access to corporate offers.
The campaign is about promoting enterprise and does not itself deliver business support. There are enough great bodies/groups/individuals doing that, and our job is to point you to them!
The campaign was launched with support from the Prime Minister and is run by a small team of business owners of which I’m one.
The campaign has motored since launch. The site www.startupbritain.org continues to attract high traffic and other impact points include:
- People searching for term start-up has risen 25% since campaign launch [Experian]
- Over 2,800 Start Up Guides downloaded and thousands of corporate offers activated
- Over 1,500 hours of mentoring pledged by top entrepreneurs
- Support from three corporate sponsors; AXA, PayPal and Barclays
- Inspired projects including StartUp Saturday and Industry Open Weeks
More to come
The action doesn’t stop here! Indeed, we’re about to enter six months of activity where the campaign will be represented at events across the UK from a StartUp Summer at UCL through to MADE Festival in Sheffield and a ‘Homes & Gardens’ start your own business show. A couple of points to flag for your immediate attention:
- If you are a start up or small business owner, you’ll want to know about a full week being run by the Marketing Agencies Association in partnership with StartUp Britain where marketing agencies will open up their doors, invite you in, and offer instruction, advice, guidance on how to best market your business. This Marketing Open Week will take place from 4 to 8 July and it will be very special!
- If you are passionate about seeing start ups thrive in your area, why not create a StartUp campaign for your area? This will be my personal area of focus for the next couple of months; helping people adopt and adapt the StartUp brand in your own town/county/region. Please get in touch if you’re interested.
In the meantime, do visit the campaign site or contact the campaign team with any questions/ideas/suggestions. Let’s together ensure StartUp Britain is a continued success – the country will be a better place if we do!
Have you taken advantage of Startup Britain?
Can you add to the list? Please tell us in the Comments area below.
By Emma Jones, founder of small business support company, Enterprise Nation
During the first month of this year I have witnessed a general and growing consensus that it will be small business that brings the UK (and world) economy out of the economic doldrums.
Research shows small businesses are innovative, dynamic, creative and what’s more they are now the greatest contributors to wealth and employment, according to data specialists, Experian.*
Which is why it’s more important than ever to encourage and support people to become their own boss and why we were delighted to launch the Business in Bloom campaign at Regus Berkeley Square on the evening of 27th January.
The campaign aims to help 500,000 people start and grow a business in 2011. Faced with the prospect of redundancy or the desire for a more flexible working life, self-employment will continue to increase at the same time as government funding for small business support continues to decrease.
The Business in Bloom campaign calls on small business owners to help each other and it invites corporate suppliers and enterprise agencies to pledge their support. Within a week of the campaign launch, there were over 70 pledges and the support keeps on coming.
We have to ensure that anyone who wants to start a business has the confidence they need and the tools at their disposal and for those wanting to grow, they need advice from others who have trodden the path and connections to partners who can help realise ambitions.
This is all we hope to achieve and I hope you will join us too!
With thanks to Regus for being our campaign launch host location.
Please pledge your support to Business in Bloom at www.businessinbloom.co.uk
*Source: One in Ten SME Firms Hold the Key to Driving Future Employment Growth in the UK (Experian)
Photo credit: William Warby via Flickr