Social distancing: at what cost for businesses?

Social distancing: at what cost for businesses?

According to a new survey from Verizon Business, over half of small businesses in the United States worry that social distancing will threaten their very survival.

A new survey from Verizon Business shows one reason why there’s pressure to get Main Street businesses, such as restaurants and eateries, back to normal: over half (55%) of small business owners in the US are worried that continued social distancing measures that limit customer capacity will threaten their very survival.

The survey was conducted by Morning Consult between August 26 and September 4 and focused on 600 small-and medium-size businesses that are currently open or plan to reopen shortly. Businesses in a wide range of industries from construction and retail to restaurants, bars and real estate, responded. More than half (52%) of small business owners reported concerns about their personal job security, down from 56% in a previous survey conducted in April. Although many business owners are feeling more positive about their future than in April when shutdowns were spreading across the US, the situation remains precarious. Sixty-seven percent of those taking the survey reported declining sales, albeit an improvement from 78% in April. 

If conditions stay the same, 72% believe they can stay open at least six months or longer.

Businesses are also adapting to the new work environment with 36% saying they have implemented new systems or technologies to allow for remote collaboration by employees. Yet 67% reported challenges, notably employee burnout. Fifty-six percent of small businesses with remote staff say work-from-home has blurred the lines between work and personal life.

62% of small businesses say remote work has allowed employees to balance work and personal commitments more effectively, but 59% say remote work has made it more difficult for employees to feel connected to their jobs and one another. Less than half (49%) say remote work has boosted employee satisfaction and morale. One notable finding from the survey: as lawmakers discuss another round of financial relief, no fewer than 81% of small business owners say the 2020 election will impact the small business sector, while 57% say it will have direct consequences for their business.

Further key findings from the survey include:

  • Regardless of their party affiliation, small business decision makers view the outcome of the 2020 election as consequential: 81% say it will impact small businesses in the U.S., while 57% say it will impact their own business’ financial security.
  • 55% of small businesses surveyed have concerns about staying afloat financially with social distancing regulations that limit business capacity.
  • 55% of small businesses have concerns about delivering services efficiently amid social distancing regulations.
  • 72% of small businesses show optimism that they will be able to stay open at least six months or more.
  • 67% of small businesses feel their businesses’ financial security has been negatively impacted.
  • 36% of small businesses have invested in technologies that enable remote work.
2020-10-09T19:17:45+00:00

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Anthony Moran
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