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SMEs rethinking return to office amid Delta surge

Almost 15% of small businesses have already pushed back their return to office date

Small and medium-sized businesses continue to adjust their workplace models in response to COVID-19, the latest research from JumpCloud has revealed, with 62.7% taking steps to mandate vaccines. 

JumpCloud’s ‘2021 Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs’ report surveyed 500 decision makers from organisations in the UK and US, looking at the impact of the Delta variant on businesses, how they are making adjustments to the workplace, as well as what the future of the SME workplace may look like.

The findings show SMEs responding to the variant with incentives to require vaccination, adjustments to the physical workplace, and a future commitment to remote work. 

“SMEs continue to exhibit great resourcefulness, flexibility, and initiative in responding to the pandemic and the Delta variant,” commented Rajat Bhargava, CEO of JumpCloud. 

“As an SME ourselves, we know the current conditions are extremely fluid, and like the majority of respondents, we had to rethink and delay our office return and hybrid workplace options.”

In terms of mandating vaccines, 62.7% of those surveyed said they have already taken steps to do so. In the UK, the figure is slightly lower at 57.6%.

However, JumpCloud found that the country is split on this: 72.8% of companies in Greater London are taking steps to mandate vaccinations, while just 44.9% of the rest of the UK are doing the same. 

More than half of those UK SMEs mandating vaccines (56.9%) will offer special incentives to encourage vaccination, the report revealed. Of those, 75.6% of respondents offer paid time off work to get a vaccine, 57.3% offer a holiday with proof of vaccination, and 52.4% offer cash or other form of compensation. 

With regards to how businesses are currently working, 9.2% of respondents said they never left the office, while 19.6% still work remotely. 39.6% are now back in the office, and almost a third (31.6%) are now working in a hybrid environment

Currently, more than half (53.2%) said they are rethinking the return to the office - while a further 14.8% have already pushed back their return to the office date.

Changes to return-to-work plans include social distancing (61.7%), limiting the number of people in the workspace at any one time (60.2%), requiring masks or PPE (47.4%), upgrading air filters or HVAC equipment (48.9%), as well as adding physical desk dividers (45.1%). 

The survey also found that 71% of UK SMEs will now be offering a work from home solution indefinitely for its employees. 

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