New research indicates that London-based SMEs are more reliant on broadband access than ever before, yet inadequate internet access is costing them money and opportunity.
The survey, carried out by 3Gem on behalf of Community Fibre, revealed that 60% of SMEs voted high broadband speed and quality more critical for their business operations than a functioning supply chain (52%) or financial support (54%). Unsurprisingly, given the agility businesses have shown throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, physical offices were deemed the least critical of the assets in the survey (40%).
86% of London SMEs say their business needs a broadband connection to operate successfully. However, businesses need more support to understand the best quality broadband for their needs. 85% do not know how fast their broadband speed needs to be for their organisation to thrive, and 1 in 5 do not know what speed their broadband is.
Graeme Oxby, CEO of Community Fibre commented, “20 years on from the first broadband connection in the UK, the pandemic has highlighted just how critical broadband infrastructure is to small and medium sized businesses. But SMEs are still not always clear on what they need from their broadband connection to optimise their business.
“With the government’s target of installing full fibre in all UK homes & businesses over the next five years – by 2025 – we must work with government, business and landlords to ensure all London businesses benefit from the full fibre broadband they need, and that SMEs have the support to choose the fast, reliable and affordable connectivity they need.”
Other key findings include SMEs saying they will now prioritise researching broadband quality and switching to better broadband, due to inadequate internet access. Over a third (35%) of SMEs were not able to transition their business fully to an online model during the Covid-19 lockdown, yet the pandemic has driven news ways of working for organisations with a greater emphasis on flexible working.
The survey found that 66% of SMEs now trust employees to work from home permanently, with 25% of SMEs saying they have not yet decided whether they will return to having a physical premise again.
“Almost half of SMEs (49%) find poor broadband connection has a negative impact on employee wellbeing and the majority (62%) say they need better bandwidth connections at where they work to facilitate the increasing demand of video conference calls,” continued Oxby.
“Evidently, employers coming out of this pandemic will need to ensure their office space and employees working from home, are adequately set up with affordable broadband to ensure reliable and fast internet connection to power the economic recovery.”