| 3 min

05. Enabling Remote Work

92% of SMBs have made efforts to shift to a remote workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While 75% of those say shifting to a remote workforce has been challenging, 65% wish they had moved to a remote model earlier.

Harris Flash Polls

Published: Apr 27, 2020

SMB leaders have taken the following actions to support a remote workforce:

  • 43% of SMBs are scheduling daily video check-ins with employees

  • 40% have purchased or upgraded a video conferencing license (such as Zoom or GoToMeeting)

  • 28% are offering virtual social engagements (such as virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, etc.) with other employees

  • 26% have purchased laptops or computers

  • 13% have hired/ contracted additional IT support

The majority of SMB leaders (62%) say that productivity has gone down with the recent changes, but with the greatest current challenge being morale (24% selected it as the single biggest challenge they’re facing), and the majority (65%) wishing they had gone remote earlier, this suggests the issue isn’t remote work itself, but rather the experience of shifting so quickly to a remote model in the midst of a global pandemic.

43% of SMBs are scheduling daily video check-ins with employees

To what extent do you think the recent change to working remotely has made your employees more or less productive?

Other Remote Work Challenges

Other challenges more commonly associated with remote working, such as fostering a strong company culture, teamwork/collaboration, and tracking employee performance, aren’t rising to the top in terms of significant challenges for SMBs during the crisis, shedding further light on how the pandemic itself and the pressure of quickly shifting to a remote model may be causing this productivity drop, rather than working remotely itself.

Once the pandemic subsides, 15% expect that all of their employees will remain working remotely, 52% expect that some will remain remote, and 33% say none of their employees will stay working remotely when the crisis is over.

What would you say is the single biggest challenge to managing your workforce during the pandemic


TriNet is partnering with The Harris Poll to conduct an ongoing series of surveys with business leaders in companies of 5 to 249 employees. Business leaders are qualified as either owners/partners or C-level executives. Quotas are set by company size and industry for each wave.

We surveyed 191 SMBs in the latest wave of the research (April 16-20, 2020); actual distribution by company size and industry is as follows:

  • 67 business leaders with 5-19 employees

  • 91 business leaders with 20-99 employees

  • 33 business leaders with 100-249 employees

  • 53 business leaders in Main Street industries (such as automotive, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, real estate, retail, skilled trade, etc.)

  • 138 business leaders in Technology, Financial Services, Professional Services, Life Science, Non-Profit, or other industries

This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. It is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that strives to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible.

Why Rise?

Rise is a hub where voices from the workplace come together to share inspirational stories and on-the-ground perspectives which shape the future of work. It’s a collaborative space where we can elevate conversations and ask the important questions to find new solutions in an ever-changing landscape.

Lift yourself up!

Every day is a new beginning and an opportunity to Rise. Join us for inspiring stories, tools, and tips from real people - all delivered right to your inbox.