Does back to school mean back to the old normal?

More than a fifth of small businesses expect their productivity to rise as children now that children are going back to school full time.

New research also suggests that more than a quarter will be able to resume what they call “normal working hours” without childcare demands.

Business owners have been putting in longer hours since the schools closed, working more than four hours over the average working week, according to a study by Enterprise Nation, commissioned by Starling Bank.

But with childcare and home schooling no longer on the agenda, England and Wales-based SMEs say they are now free to put this time into their business.

The data also indicated that a further one in 10 anticipate an increase in working hours from their employees, with 14 per cent of small enterprises reporting that their business will be able to “get up and running properly” as their children get back to the classroom.

The reopening of schools offers a welcome chance for entrepreneurs to refocus their efforts on managing their businesses and seeking opportunities to grow

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown has also led to an increase in confidence: six in ten business owners believe the easing of social distancing will allow them to start planning for the future again, and more than a quarter claim the plans have increased their appetite to expand their business.

Gareth K Thomas, a foster father to three children who runs Clarified, a Cardiff-based digital consultancy, said: “In March 2020 I resigned myself to the fact that life would be fairly quiet until the pandemic was over. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

“I’ve been busier than ever juggling the changing needs of clients and new business, all while homeschooling my three foster children. My time has been stretched so thinly that I’ve even had to turn a few prospective clients away. I simply didn’t have the time to take them on.

“The reopening of schools has given me the opportunity to focus on my business again, I’m looking forward to it.”

Symmie Swil, Head of SME Banking at Starling said: “More than half of our customers are parents and we’ve seen determination that they’ve demonstrated in the face of the pandemic, juggling homeschooling with work commitments.

“The reopening of schools offers a welcome chance for entrepreneurs to refocus their efforts on managing their businesses and seeking opportunities to grow in these unpredictable times.”

Enterprise Nation surveyed its membership of limited company owners and sole trader business leaders, between 10-19 March 2021, securing 850 online responses. 

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