More than 80 per cent of UK small business owners enjoy a better work-life balance if they have a broadband internet connection.
New research from BT Business found that a combination of broadband services and faster connection speeds had increased mobility, enabled remote access and encouraged flexible working among UK entrepreneurs.
The research, featured in BT Business’ State of the Small Business Nation 2007 report, looked at a range of topics including what motivates the decision makers, what worries them, business productivity and use of technology.
The report, aimed at understanding what drives the UK’s 4.27 million businesses employing less than 50 people, revealed that broadband was key to enjoying flexible working, with more than three quarters of businesses surveyed (78 per cent) citing speed and flexibility as the reason for broadband uptake.
The report also shows that one third of smaller companies (33 per cent) and almost half of sole trader businesses (48 per cent) are starting to create a better work-life balance by spending a greater proportion of their working hours away from the office.
More than 95 per cent of people questioned had broadband in their home, allowing them the freedom to work away from the office with alternative working patterns better suited to the demands of their lifestyle and commitments than the traditional nine-to-five.
The research found that broadband services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), are also improving work-life balance. Nearly half (48 per cent) of small businesses expect to be using VoIP this time next year, with one-third of 31-to-50-employee businesses recognising that mobility, including remote access and flexible working, is the reason to use internet calling services.
When buying services for their business, smaller company owners saw reliability as the most important overall consideration, closely followed by value for money. Only 12 per cent of companies questioned saw cost as a primary decision factor.
Managing director of BT Business Bill Murphy said: "Britain’s small businesses are critical to the health of the UK economy, and broadband is becoming central in helping them to thrive without compromising other aspects of their lives.
"However, if your livelihood and your work-life balance can be significantly impacted by the technology you choose, then that technology has to be designed specifically for business, and that’s why we invest so much in developing services like BT Business Total Broadband."
He said that with high-speed 8Mb access, business grade security and even a free additional VoIP line included in the package, BT was helping SMEs get the most from their business communications so they could choose where and when they worked.
"This report shows that SMEs understand that when it comes to buying business services, reliability and value are paramount," added Bill