Small business in Europe are
seen as the engines of growth. They contribute substantially to the
creation of new jobs, and the development of innovative services and
But to what extent are they
embracing new methods of work, and the technologies which underpin
ebusiness and the "new economy"?
Nextra, the communications
service provider, have been carrying out research focusing on these
issues. The Nextra eEurope Report aims to get a picture of
flexible and inflexible work
practices and attitudes
their effect on work-life
usage of technology
comparisons between countries
on these issues
Flexible work, long hours and home-work
The study found 52% of respondents working more than
45 hours per week. And most people (82%) felt that work invaded their
evenings and weekends (64%). But the vast majority (85%). claimed not to
be too troubled by these incursions. The participants were all from middle
and senior management - so it seems long hours are seen as something that
goes with the territory.
The main ill-effects reported are "mental strain or
disorder". For participants as a whole, 26% reported this. But the
figure rises to 40% amongst those who work more than 60 hours per week,
illustrating a correlation between long hours and symptoms of stress.
Who's doing it
Sweden, as one might expect, has the greatest number of
people working form home for at least one day per week. But there are some surprises in the report about which
other countries SMBs lead the field in terms of remote working.
Respondents perceptions were as one might expect.
The major surprise is in the low position of the UK in this ranking of
people who work at home at least one day per week, and the relatively high
position of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The UK did, however, head the list (along with Norway) of respondents who
want to work remotely.
Why people aren't doing it
The report identifies organisational barriers to the implementing or
remote/flexible work. The main reasons given were:
lack of prioritising from management (43%)
inadequate corporate IT systems (43%)
corporate expenditure issues (43%)
technophobic employees or end-users (41%)
poor implementation of new products and solutions (35%)
Most respondents felt that remote working was not encouraged by managers.
The report also analyses investment in remote working solutions - the
amount invested and the types of IT and telecommunications used.
Challenges for interpretation
Focusing on smaller and medium sized businesses this study was bound to
come up with some different results to those which focus on or include
large organisations. Some of the findings are clearly at odds with
findings in other studies - not least that UK managers don't work
especially long hours. Most studies find completely the reverse.
There is also much scope for further work to interpret the
findings - for example, one suspects that what counts for "working
from home" varies considerably, with various shades of technology
We look forward to further debate and studies in this