INSIGHT

4 Small Business Trends
to Watch in 2022

What’s most likely to change the way you run your business in 2022? Will it be a piece of new technology that transforms a slow, resource heavy task? Or will it be a new approach to work itself, ditching the 9-5 in favour of something more flexible? For small businesses, understanding the factors that have the potential to reshape the way they operate can be vital. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 trends we think all small businesses should be watching out for in 2022:

1. The evolution of hybrid working

Over the last 2 years, a more flexible approach to working has become the norm for many. The latest figures show that around 30% of adults in the UK have worked from home at some point in the last 7 days and 67% have travelled into to the office at least once[1]. More small businesses than ever are now offering a hybrid approach to office and home working, allowing their staff to choose a combination that works for them.

What does this mean for small businesses in 2022? Whilst those in the hospitality and retail sectors don’t necessarily have the luxury of being completely flexible in when and where they work, there’s an overwhelming argument for providing the technology that enables a hybrid approach. Most significantly, the shift towards more flexible ways of working has fast become a key part of job satisfaction. Employees increasingly expect to be given the kind of connectivity and digital technology that empowers them to work from home, on the go, or in the office. This trend is particularly pronounced in younger members of the workforce, where 92%[2] say they want to work flexibly. For small businesses, it’s clear that to keep attracting talented employees and ensure future growth, providing the tools and technology that enable hybrid working will be absolutely essential in 2022 and beyond.

2. Transforming online experiences with AR & VR technology

Virtual and augmented reality are not new technologies at this point. They’ve been floating around in various forms for several years, but 2021 has seen some big leaps forward in their accessibility and mass market appeal. Most significantly, Facebook has changed their name to Meta and launched the Metaverse, an online social world that offers brand new ways of connecting, communicating & collaborating, all through the power of VR, AR and smart technology.


How will this impact small businesses? Whilst the immediate impact might be small, the fact that one of the biggest social media platforms in the world is moving into this space means that millions of consumers will become exposed to a whole range of immersive applications and experiences. Whilst ‘building’ the metaverse is currently the realm of larger enterprises, Meta are already highlighting the opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes to benefit from this technology, particularly when it comes to e-commerce. Not only will a technology like AR help consumers interact immersively with products in online marketplaces, there’s also scope for businesses to develop their relationships with customers, delivering unique VR experiences. Even though the Metaverse is still in development, it’s clear that small businesses should expect VR and AR to become a part of their digital roadmap in 2022.

3. Diverse digital marketing strategies

Digital marketing is becoming increasingly diverse, with almost every platform and social media site offering self serve advertising. On top of this, the more traditional forms of digital marketing through channels like Google are becoming more complex, driven by features like voice search, rich results and mobile first design. With a huge number of options and possibilities available, understanding where to invest your digital marketing budget in 2022 will be crucial.

Spend some time exploring what different platforms can offer your business. Retailers looking to drive more online sales might find Instagram’s new shopping features a really helpful way to access new customers, whilst businesses targeting a particular niche might benefit from exploring the advanced interest and demographic targeting on platforms like Spotify or Reddit. It’s also important to recognise that audiences will be interacting with your marketing in more diverse ways too; making media like video, audio and gifs part of your business’ marketing strategy in 2022 will undoubtedly help increase your reach. Don’t be afraid to try something new - but don’t forget to measure the results!

4. Greater focus on mental health and wellbeing

Perhaps one of the biggest changes as a result of the pandemic is an increased awareness of how mental health can impact our working lives. This can be a particularly acute issue for small businesses, where the pressure to keep everything running with a tiny team, or even on your own, can feel overwhelming. It’s clear that improving mental wellbeing at work has become vitally important, and methods for tackling it successfully will be a key issue for businesses in 2022.

For small businesses, developing better awareness of the factors that can contribute to excess stress in the workplace is a good first step, but proactively managing and reducing this where possible is the goal. Key to this is open communication: Ask your team how they’re feeling, what’s worrying them and what can be done to reduce their stress levels. This is just as important if you’re running a business; take the time to check in with yourself and assess how you’re feeling mentally. Another simple but powerful step is to encourage healthy working habits, like taking regular breaks, setting manageable deadlines and stopping answering emails late at night. There’s plenty of external support for businesses available too: Charities like Mind offer a whole range of resources to help look after yourself and your staff; a great place to start if you’re looking to bring more focus to this vitally important issue in 2022.

We hope you enjoyed this latest article on digital best practices for small businesses post lockdown. For more insights and articles designed to help small businesses unlock their digital potential, you can visit our Insights hub.

Sources

[1]‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights: Work’, Office for National Statistics, Dec 3rd 2021. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19latestinsights/work 

[2] ‘Flexible working: the business case’, CIPD, 2018. https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/flexible-working-business-case_tcm18-52768.pdf

 
 

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