By Daniel Hunter
UK start ups are fuelling a boom in cappuccino commerce — the practice of using the Wi-Fi facilities in the country’s coffee shops, hotels and restaurants to run their business.
In the study of 750 small businesses by Brother UK, over a fifth (22 per cent) of companies started in the last three years say they base themselves in local coffee shops and bars to help reduce their overheads.
The continuing economic downturn coupled with improvements in home office and on-the-go technology mean that increasing numbers of businesses launched during the recession are embracing truly flexible working. Sixty nine per cent of companies which started in the last six months had no office space compared to 48 per cent that launched before 2008.
Seven in ten companies said new technology had been a major factor in their decision to go office-free.
The migration from the fixed office to working remotely has clearly been accelerated by the improvement in home office and on-the-go technology. Seventy one per cent questioned stated that the advent of smartphones, mobile printing devices and laptop/tablet computers are the major enabler of their ‘no fixed adobe’ approach to business.
This is not just a modern phenomenon felt by the new generation of 20-something workers — 76 per cent of over-55s cited enhanced technology for their ability to be flexible in their working habits, with 56 per cent of 35 — 54 year-olds questioned also supporting this view.
Such is the rise in popularity of working ‘out of office’ that over two thirds (67 per cent) of companies under a year old say they plan to stay office free. Just 14 per cent are worried what clients think of their business for not having an office.
Home office working is still the most popular choice for start ups with 72 per cent setting up shop from a spare room.
“In recent years there’s certainly been a cultural shift in working habits across the UK with new technology allowing companies to work in a way that suits them and their business, whatever their size," Joanna Williams, Head of Brother UK Marketing and Communications, commented.
"Tablet technology, mobile printing and scanning solutions, the widespread availability of Wi-Fi connectivity and cloud technology means there are no longer barriers when it comes to working remotely, and almost any location can now be treated as an extension of - or even replacement for - your office.”
There are an estimated 4.5 million businesses in the private sector and in 2011 the number of new enterprises to begin trading almost doubled on the previous year’s to 94,000. SMEs were responsible for a combined annual turnover of £1,500bn, with London and the wider South East region representing the most popular area with 1.5 million burgeoning businesses.
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