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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) unveils the results of a special survey on the usage of teleworking in Quebec SMEs. Alarmingly, only 36% of small and medium-sized businesses have been able to implement this practice.

A quick glance at deserted urban centers shows that many workers work from home. However, this practice is not suitable for all economic sectors. As François Vincent, Quebec vice-president at the CFIB, points out, a mechanic cannot change tires and a hairdresser cannot cut the hair of her clients via videoconference.

The results also show that one in five SMEs has succeeded in adapting teleworking in a company. More precisely, they are 13% of SMEs to adopt teleworking for certain responsibilities and 7% to do so for most responsibilities. For 5% of SMEs, teleworking was already a common practice within the company.

Loss of team cohesion

According to the results obtained, teleworking reduced team cohesion for half of SMEs (53%). As for other consequences, it should be noted that the adoption of teleworking increased costs for 39% of SMEs, reduced the ease of communication with staff for 36% of them while a third (34%) indicated that they had noticed a decrease in productivity.

“Remember that in Quebec, 7 out of 10 SMEs have less than 10 employees, says François Vincent. For these businesses, it can be more complex and also more expensive to undertake such a change. It is even more difficult in the context of the crisis, because they have experienced a sudden and sharp decline in their sales and are still struggling to regain their fully operational stage. In addition, even if staff cohesion can be facilitated when it comes to a small work team, it is clear that from a distance, this represents an additional challenge for business owners caught in an unprecedented crisis.”

Main concerns of SMEs regarding teleworking

SMEs have also communicated their concerns related to teleworking. At the top of the list, they fear the impact on business development (49%) and underline the difficulties related to the supervision of employees (47%). Note that nearly a third of SMEs (31%) fear the costs that this represents for the company and they also mention as a barrier employee access to a reliable and high speed Internet connection. Finally, occupational health and safety issues are also of concern to some business owners who have taken the plunge (28%).

“SMEs want to move towards teleworking. However, they need support to facilitate their transition, both in terms of training and to bear the additional costs associated with it. In addition, to successfully undertake this transition, having access to high-speed Internet in all regions of Quebec is critical”, concludes Mr. Vincent.

Steve Sauvé


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