A wide shot of a woman sitting at a round table next to a massive set of bay windows. The woman has her hair pulled into a bun and is working at a laptop. She wears a dark blue shirt, gray and black yoga pants, and gray slippers. The room around her has pastel blue walls. Severa small potted plants sit on the window sills of the bay windows, which are positioned above wall-mounted radiators.
In a recent survey of small and midsize business leaders, 78% of respondents said that productivity was boosted when employees worked off-site at least some of the time. — Getty Images/Tom Werner

The business world has not looked the same since 2020, and small businesses are constantly trying to adjust to ever-changing work trends. From allowing hybrid work to investing in the metaverse, there are countless ways small businesses may have to adapt to ensure their employees are satisfied. Here are some future work trends small businesses should prepare for.

Offering flexible schedules and work arrangements

With the increase in remote work during the pandemic and a subsequent push for firmer work-life boundaries, small businesses are experimenting with letting their workers set their own schedules. Not only does this reduce stress and increase productivity, but it also decreases dissatisfaction in the workplace, translating to less employee turnover.

In fact, according to a recent study, 78% of respondents say hybrid schedules (working outside of the office for at least some of the time) boost employee productivity. Rather than requiring all employees to be in the office every day, consider being flexible with your arrangements so employees feel more motivated.

Reskilling and upskilling

Reskilling and upskilling current staff is a trend many small businesses are following. Rather than recruiting new talent, business owners are finding ways to invest in their existing employees.

Reskilling helps employees learn new skills to take on new responsibilities and roles, while upskilling focuses on developing skills that will help employees perform better in their current roles. Both processes are affordable ways to leverage your talent without having to hire and onboard new workers.

[Read more: Solve Your Business’s Talent Crisis With Reskilling and Upskilling]

Investing in the metaverse

The metaverse is a virtual universe or network of virtual realities. Small businesses can use the metaverse to create engaging experiences for their customers and reach a wider audience. This also comes at a lower cost to small businesses, as they won’t need to invest in physical infrastructures to create an immersive experience or experiment with new business models.

The metaverse can also benefit workers, as you can utilize it to host employee training, virtual meetings, and more.

[Read more: What Is the Metaverse?]

Rather than recruiting new talent, business owners are finding ways to invest in their existing employees.

Utilizing generative AI

Generative AI like ChatGPT produces original content from just a key phrase or brief description. Many small businesses are utilizing this tool to generate marketing copy within seconds. However, small business owners should keep in mind that the content produced often needs a human eye to catch mistakes and false information, as this tool is far from perfect. Rather, companies can use generative AI as a tool in their overall content creation process.

Providing tailored employee benefits

Due to the current labor shortage, small businesses — especially those with limited budgets — should offer more personalized benefits to attract and retain employees. Such benefits can include mentorship programs, unlimited PTO, opportunities for growth, and more. Workers appreciate companies that reward their hard work and dedication, and providing these benefits will incentivize employees.

Child care benefits especially can help broaden your reach when recruiting and hiring new workers, as many parents struggle to balance their work life with their child care needs. Helping employees find and afford child care will both entice new workers and also make current employees feel more valued.

Seeking alternative funding

It’s become increasingly difficult for small businesses to secure loans for funding. As a result, many companies are seeking alternative lenders and investors to cover their financial needs. Examples of such funding types include grants, crowdfunding, angel investors, venture capitalists, peer-to-peer lenders, and other private funding sources.

Using automation

While automation has been a popular tool for the past few years, it’s only continuing to grow. AI and other automation technologies can help businesses streamline their processes, allowing employees to focus on other, more important tasks.

Additionally, automation can personalize the customer experience by collecting data from website visitors and offering more personalized recommendations. Customers will be more likely to purchase products if they’re seeing recommendations tailored to their specific interests and digital behavior.

This type of automation can also improve marketing campaigns. AI can both collect and interpret data to help small businesses create more targeted marketing campaigns — an important tactic for smaller companies that heavily rely on their marketing efforts to increase visibility.

[Read more: 5 Work and Business Trends You Need to Know for 2023]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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