How Small Businesses are Adjusting to the Evolving Demands of the Pandemic

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How Small Businesses are Adjusting to the Evolving Demands of the Pandemic

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Kale Johnson, senior sales manager, CDW Canada
Kale Johnson, senior sales manager, CDW Canada

By: Kale Johnson, senior sales manager, CDW Canada

Small businesses in Canada faced a wide array of challenges as a result of the pandemic. From rapidly evolving IT needs, to nationwide lockdowns forcing employees to work from home, most small business owners were forced to rapidly shift their operating models to survive. While some innovations adopted during the pandemic have helped small businesses keep up, owners are still bracing themselves for tough times ahead as their employees continue to work from home. To better understand this landscape, we put together a list of common barriers small businesses faced during the pandemic and the transitions they’ve made to overcome them.

Lacking proper collaboration tools
While there are benefits and drawbacks of any office environment, one positive is the ability to interact and collaborate with colleagues. As this is difficult in our current environment, one challenge small businesses faced during the pandemic was not having the right collaboration tools, like WebEx and Microsoft Teams, for employees to work together online. A recent survey from CDW examined the roadblocks small businesses faced during the pandemic and found that nearly one quarter (20 percent) did not have the right collaboration tools as employees transitioned to working from home. These tools are critical as employees continue to work remotely because they help maintain a sense of normalcy while ensuring business continuity. As many small businesses were not prepared for the transition to working from home, CDW found that 35 percent were able to invest in the necessary collaboration platforms during the early day of the pandemic.

Investing in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity became an even more high-profile issue as employees transitioned to working from home earlier this year. The move altered how organizational data was shared, as we shifted from it living on a network in one physical location to being dispersed across whatever geographies employees were in. Without the proper cybersecurity rules in place which are tailored to the current environment, small businesses remain vulnerable to online threats. If an employee unintentionally opens an email containing a virus or clicks on a link, it increases the chances of a company device being hacked and confidential information from being stolen.

To mitigate these risks, CDW’s survey found that 20 percent of small businesses invested in security software such as antivirus and firewall. This initial investment is important, but organizations need to regularly review and update their security software to meet the evolving threat landscape. While the continued investment is important, awareness and training are equally critical. One roadblock for 10 percent of small businesses amid the pandemic was teaching their employees cybersecurity best practices and ensuring adherence. Employees are the first line of defence in preventing a cybersecurity incident from occurring, and ensuring they are adequately trained needs to be top of mind for businesses of all sizes.

Cashflow challenges
Even before the pandemic, many small businesses operated on tight budgets. This was amplified by the pandemic as some organizations had to augment the technology at hand to ensure business continuity. This ranged from investing in IT or the right endpoint solutions, like desktops, laptops and mobile phones to help their employees work from home. CDW’s survey found that for 34 percent of small businesses, cash flow was the biggest barrier to IT investment in the early stages of the pandemic, while 35 percent noted it is still a major concern looking towards the future. The pandemic’s impact on businesses will continue into 2021 and beyond, so planning for IT investments today is critical. Fortunately, Canada’s small business owners realize this, and nearly one quarter (22 percent) noted their planned IT investments will increase due to COVID-19.

As organizational needs continue to shift amid the pandemic and looking towards the future, it’s important for small businesses to leverage all possible means to ensure their business can continue now and for years to come. If you’re a small business looking to prepare your IT infrastructure for future changes, connect with one of our small business experts by visiting cdw.ca/smallbusiness.

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