Nearly half of SMES in the UK would consider working entirely online as a “virtual company” to beat the credit crunch, research shows.

A new independent national survey commissioned by web conferencing and remote working technology firm Yuuguu found 43 per cent of small to medium-sized businesses polled would consider leaving their office space for cyberspace.

Such a move would drastically reduce a whole series of overhead costs, with 72 per cent of companies saying they planned to make cutbacks in one form or another as the downturn takes its toll.

The survey said: “The top measure that the 2,000 small to medium-sized businesses are already taking to fight the crunch is cutting unnecessary travel (38 per cent), followed by reducing marketing spend (28 per cent), changing suppliers (27 per cent), reducing staff hours (23 per cent) and cancelling or delaying new initiatives or projects (20 per cent).

“The majority of small to medium-sized UK businesses also believe that remote working will help them beat the credit crunch. Fifty-four per cent feel that allowing employees to work from home using the internet to find free services such as web conferencing and online screen sharing will help them weather the recession better than traditional businesses.”

The survey also revealed that small to medium-sized businesses are already part of the remote working trend, with 29 per cent of UK businesses using virtual meetings, where team members communicate via web conferences to limit travel expenses.

A total of 40 per cent also believed that half of their meetings could be conducted remotely.