Two-thirds of European SMEs are unprepared for hybrid working

hybrid workingA new poll from Dynabook Europe claims that many European small and medium sized enterprises are still grappling with the challenges of hybrid working, with two-thirds (67 percent) yet to fully optimise their IT solutions for this. The study, commissioned by Dynabook in partnership with Walnut Unlimited, surveyed 1,202 IT decision-makers at SMEs across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

The study also indicates that IT budgets are generally on the rise across the region. This is most notable in the UK, where 54 percent of SMBs revealed they have a higher IT budget this year compared to last year. Almost half (48 percent) of SMEs in France revealed increased budgets, closely followed by 46 percent of those in Spain. Meanwhile only 22 percent of respondents reported a decrease in their IT budget. Subsequently the top three areas of priority for IT investment in the next 12 months include cybersecurity infrastructure (46 percent), cloud-based solutions (46 percent) and remote IT support/assistance (44 percent). Equipping employees with devices is also a popular investment priority (40 percent).

For SMEs, transitioning from a traditional office setting to a hybrid working model has presented many operational challenges, with reducing IT downtime revealed to be a leading challenge for just over half (51 percent) of respondents. Almost half of European SMEs are losing at least seven hours a month per employee to IT downtime – equal to 12 days per year – with only 16 percent believing they have completely sufficient IT resource to support their workforce. For those who said they have insufficient resource, what they most commonly lack is personnel – 36 percent indicated they don’t have enough IT security staff, while 34 percent say the same for broader IT staff.

It’s therefore no surprise to see SMBs turning towards more affordable and reliable technology solutions, which can simplify IT management while maintaining security and productivity throughout the workforce. Devices are at the heart of this, with 64 percent of SMEs considering purchasing decisions around laptops to be more important now than before the pandemic. Equally, emerging technologies like Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs) (55 percent) and edge computing solutions (52 percent) rank highly in this category given their ability to deliver a highly secure yet productive remote environment for employees.

Last but not least, security remains a major priority as businesses contend with a constantly evolving cyber threat landscape. The research found that 45 percent of SMEs considered security to be the most challenging element of IT to manage during the pandemic. This is divided between network security (24 percent) and device security (21 percent), highlighting the necessity for security to underpin every element of the IT infrastructure, from the network core through to the hardware in employees’ hands.