happy business people

New research by Samsung reveals UK business leaders’ clock off at 3.06pm

happy business people

From Twitter to Meta, layoffs mount in the tech industry.

With more than 35,000 tech workers across 72 companies having been laid off this month alone. But despite Elon Musk’s decision to ban remote working at Twitter and claim that he would be working and sleeping at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters until the "org is fixed", this type of demonstrative dedication to work isn’t an ideal shared by other business leaders.

New research commissioned by Samsung, surveying 1,000 UK business executives, reveals that gone are the days when burning the midnight oil was the norm. With the average ‘clocking off time’ for business leaders now 3.06pm. Further still, one in five business owners (20%) said they only work when they want to, while just 14% stick to a traditional 9-5.

Prioritising self-care and family life, setting their own hours, working holidays; all define the new ‘fluid’ British business owner

  • 47% of entrepreneurs have ‘no fixed hours,’ with 9-5 becoming the exception.
  • 97% perform non-work activities during their newly defined ‘working day’.
  • 37% of entrepreneurs have been on a ‘working holiday’.
  • 51% have upgraded their work phone to enable them to work from anywhere.

Work is headspace not a physical space

More than ever, work is about focus not location, with the average business owner not having set foot in an office for 148 days, and one in five never having done so at all. Instead, almost two-fifths (37%) of entrepreneurs have taken a working holiday without telling clients, with the practise far more common amongst those aged 25-34 (48%) compared to just 20% of those over 55. That confidence seems linked to technology, with more than half (51%) upgrading their work phone so they can operate anywhere, on their own terms. There is, however, a continuing sense of dedication, with 43% of small business owners taking less holiday time, preferring to continue to work from wherever they are.

Mental and emotional wellbeing are major considerations, and there is growing sentiment that work should not be all encompassing even among business owners; 71% said they put their family life ahead of their business, with 27% saying the same for friends. In a sign of how much the conversation has shifted, half (49%) said they prioritise their emotional health ahead of their business.

Modern entrepreneurs aren’t just trying to improve their own work/life balance though, they’re encouraging their staff to do the same. Half (49%) let their employees change their working hours to fit in with their lives, a third (35%) are happy to let their staff choose their working hours so long as they get the job done, and remarkably, almost a quarter (23%) will let staff come in late if they’ve been out the night before. That duty of care is being taken seriously, with 36% allowing their employees to take “mental health days” if needed.

Making the most of time spent working

The days of being deskbound are almost over, with 97% of respondents performing non-work activities during the traditional “working day.” Self-care is clearly a priority, with three-quarters (74%) taking time out to exercise and, almost half (47%) to develop a new skill, such as learning a language. In a further uplevelling of work/life balance, respondents spend an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes on household chores, and 39% spend up to 2 hours playing with their children. More unusual work-time activities include learning to knit, bathing a pet iguana, attending a football match and 46% admit to getting their hair done during their office hours. Apparently far more normal is the habit of napping, with one in five (22%) taking daily siestas to help them perform better.

Commenting on the research, Joe Walsh, Director of B2B at Samsung UK said: 

“UK business owners are the backbone of our economy, and their dedication and commitment inspires me every day. This research reveals, that they are also leading the charge on transforming our preconceived ideas of how we should work. For modern entrepreneurs, work is wherever they find the right headspace. It’s all about finding new ways of working that bring more individual satisfaction and reward.”

“Multi-tasking, multi-screens, multi-priorities; all are now commonplace, with a refreshed focus quality over quantity. As many of the respondents expressed, if their business can be run effectively from a beach in Greece or after picking up their kids from school, why shouldn’t it be? Technology is at the heart of this change, with the right tools empowering them to juggle what they need to do and what they want to do, without missing a beat, and driving growth.”

Serial investor and founder of 10x10 Capital, Andy Davis explains,

“The stereotype of how a business owner must work and act is being rewritten. It’s now about what is most effective both personally and professionally. For me, speed is everything, so I need technology that develops alongside my workflow and is easily accessible wherever I go. My Samsung Z Fold4 has helped me grow from being a good to communicator to a great one, because it literally lets me see the big picture.”

To find out more about Samsung’s range of business focused products and services visit: https://www.samsung.com/uk/jointhefold


Solving the great European tech skills shortage

While there is no shortage of tech jobs in Europe, there is a growing IT skills gap.

To close it and simultaneously up the supply of capable technology professionals, do we need to revisit our approach to where and how we train and employ professionals and get more women on board?

Approximately 870,000 tech and digital job vacancies were available in the UK alone between January to May 2022 - the highest in 10 years, with similar demand for technology skills arising across the globe. However, Eurostat showed that 55% of companies struggled to fill their ICT vacancies.

The skills gap has considerable ramifications for Europe as a whole - McKinsey shows that Europe is lagging behind global leaders in most growth-enabling technologies such as applied AI and distributed infrastructure. If this continues, it will have a knock-on effect on future investment on the continent.

The looming recession will only further serve to increase the chasm between the supply and demand of tech professionals, for digitalisation tends to underpin initiatives to cut costs and increase efficiency. As economic difficulties increase, companies that fold or cut jobs will release a new wave of unemployed jobseekers who will need to find new opportunities, perhaps by reskilling for work in the technology sector.

Incorporating soft skills to ensure readiness for work

Government initiatives to boost ICT skills may serve to increase the number of IT professionals available in the market but the main issue isn’t the availability of training provision: a 2021 report by European Software Skills Alliance (ESSA) about the current and future needs for software skills and professionals in Europe found ‘no shortage of supply in training of the most relevant software skills (e.g.programming languages)’.

Examining the nature of the skills developed, the pool of people engaging in ICT training and the relationship between training providers, learners and employers, the report points to a mismatch between the skills produced with those sought by businesses, who are seeking soft skills in addition to ‘hard’ technical skills. Current training that develops sought-after soft skills including critical thinking, problem solving and self-management within ICT-oriented programmes, is generally limited. Companies want technically competent employees who are rounded individuals and add to the company culture, communicate and collaborate with people across the business and within their teams.

In our case, we’re on track to train 15,000 - 20,000 individuals per year. Students graduating from our courses receive access to mentoring, hard and soft skills - plus, a job at the end. Working with companies that need tech workers also enables us to tailor our training specifically to align with the needs of real businesses.

Flexible working patterns open the door to more female techies

The female demographic has traditionally been underrepresented in IT and is an untapped candidate pool. According to WEF, not only does IT have some of the lowest female participation, it is an industry where women are hard to recruit. Concurrently, the job sectors where women currently dominate are those in decline (Office and Administrative, and Manufacturing and Production).

Traditionally, women more than men, especially those with childcare/carer responsibilities, require work that is flexible. Fortunately many tech and IT roles can be carried out remotely and adapted to afford flexibility. Plus, arguably, responsibilities such as childcare and caring can organically foster certain soft skills development.

Interestingly, some central European countries seem to be succeeding at growing the number of women in their IT workforce. Romania has only 2.4% of its workforce in the ICT sector with 26.2% of those specialist roles filled by women, similarly Greece (2.0% ICT jobs, 26.5% women) and Bulgaria (3% ICT jobs, 28.2% women) - a stark contrast with only 15.5% of women in the ICT sector across Europe as a whole.

Central Europe is also a growing hub from which to recruit a young and ambitious IT workforce. Nearshoring to support existing teams or create entirely new teams to central European countries offers an attractive opportunity for businesses. It enables them to benefit from often English-speaking, cost-competitive employees in similar time zones to them and whose countries sometimes offer tax incentives for their employment.

While we consider the skills gap, it is worth noting the European Commission’s Digital Decade program which aims to employ 20 million ICT specialists by 2030, consisting of an equal proportion of men and women. Conscious efforts to innovate tech and IT training to better fit companies’ needs; initiatives to close the gender gap and explore alternative markets to recruit from are essential keys to solving the problem.

About the authors

József Boda, CEO of Codecool and Michał Mysiak, CEO of Software Development Academy explore the challenges facing Europeans as a result of the ever-widening IT skills gaps and potential solutions.

Sources:

[1] https://technation.io/news/uk-tech-jobs-people-skills-report-2022/

[2] Over the course of 2019, Digital Skills and Jobs Platform, EU

[3] The Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum

[4] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA

[5] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA