By Daniel Hunter

Working more efficiently, increasing communication with colleagues and customers, and leaving work on time more often are the three top New Year’s Resolutions for small business workers, according to research developed by Dynamic Markets for Google.

The study, which gathered opinions from over 3,500 small business employees in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, found that over three quarters (80%) made work-related New Year’s Resolutions.

The resolutions reflect frustrations voiced by small businesses about working practices in 2012, where 71% of small business employees found life at work ‘tough’, with a lack of teamwork and long working hours cited as key bugbears. More than a third (38%) of workers said their workload was heavier in 2012 compared to 2011.

Communication and administration issues appear to be holding them back, with many workers struggling to find ways to communicate and work together efficiently:

Over half (54%) encountered email problems on a weekly basis, with mailbox size being the biggest issue.
Arranging meetings similarly ate chunks out of the working week, with each meeting taking approximately an hour-and-a-half to arrange. With workers typically arranging one a week, that’s over six hours of time a month each spent on this task.
Another common task workers had to perform was collating feedback from different people into one master document. On average, they did this seven times a month, taking approximately two hours to complete each time - almost two days a month.

Teamwork proved to be another challenge for 76% of team members, who said they found it frustrating, with getting everyone in the same place at the same time to discuss projects being the biggest issue. Despite this, 61% said teamwork shortens the time it takes to complete projects and tasks by an average of 40%.

When it comes to the way employees interact, many workers are still clinging to traditional methods of communication such as the phone, email and meetings. However, some businesses are already starting to seek alternative ways to communicate, with 39% increasing their use of online collaborative tools. Interestingly, online collaborative tools are more commonly used by those whose organisations has seen an increase in profits or turnover in 2012, which could suggest that the more forward-thinking, tech-savvy small businesses have a greater understanding of how collaborative technology can benefit the workplace.

Neil Delaney, Director of SMB for EMEA, Google Enterprise explains, “With so many resolving to work more efficiently, perhaps 2013 will be a turning point where we see more small businesses working smarter, collaborating more effectively with their colleagues and customers, and accessing the tools needed for better communication.”

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