Because I write a Question and Answer column at USA TODAY, I naturally hear from many entrepreneurs. They share their ideas and strategies with me, along with tales of success (and, yes, sometimes failure.)
One thing I hear about a lot is not loneliness per se, but rather, that when you work for yourself it sometimes is like being in a vacuum, or a bubble. You know what works for you and how you like to do things, but getting that invaluable perspective from your peers can be difficult.
If that describes you, let me suggest that you take a look at the latest edition of the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR.) The SBOR is a semi-annual survey that looks at the concerns, aspirations, and perspectives of small business owners around the country. It is always a great way to get a pulse on what other entrepreneurs are doing and thinking, and the fall 2015 iteration is no exception.
It turns out that according to this latest SBOR, the traditional workplace is indeed evolving:
Virtual work and offices are becoming more popular. It was once a novel notion that employees would work on the go. This is no longer true. Today, telecommuting and offering employees a mobile work option is prevalent. According to the latest SBOR:
The traditional office environment appears to be changing, with small business owners reporting that workplace culture has become more open to change in the past five years. In particular, the virtual office model is rising in popularity with 47 percent of small business owners now offering telecommuting options for employees, compared with 35 percent five years ago.
There is no doubt that telecommuting benefits the employee, but does it work for the owner too? You bet. The majority (59 percent) of the small business owner respondents stated that their employees are happier as a result and we all know that happy employees help create a successful business.
New perks abound: Traditionally, a small business owner would reward an employee with money, for example, a raise, a bonus, or better benefits. But one of the things I am seeing a lot in the new office, and what is borne out by the latest SBOR, is that entrepreneurs are getting more creative with how they are rewarding staff members. Consider these perks that were highlighted in the report:
- Flextime was offered by 52 percent of respondents. And that makes sense. Flextime doesn’t really cost a business much and yet is something much valued by today’s work staff, especially Millennials.
- Twenty percent said that they offer “areas to unwind,” like nap pods.
- Seventeen percent offer “office happy hours.” Not only is this another affordable option, but it is a great way to foster teamwork.
- And how about this? Eleven percent said that one of their main perks is to offer a “pet friendly environment.”
New ways to hire emerge: One other significant change that we are seeing in the workplace, as reported in the latest SBOR, is that small business owners have been changing their hiring methods over the past few years. According to the report:
“30 percent are using social media platforms such as LinkedIn to find potential candidates, 29 percent are using social media sites such
While it doesn’t really matter whether you are using these tools and perks in your place of business, it is beneficial to know how others are adopting, and adapting to, all of this new technology. as Facebook and Instagram to vet potential candidates, and 22 percent are using technology such as Skype to conduct interviews.”
And in any case, if how they are doing business gives you some new ideas, that makes it all the better.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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