Small businesses in the Age of COVID-19

Small Businesses

It’s no secret that small businesses in Canada were strongly affected by COVID-19. As quarantine orders and increasing health risks continue to keep people at home, many small business owners have been struggling for months to keep up with changing customer behaviours and the major economic shock caused by the pandemic. This has forced many small and businesses to apply for government aid and in some extreme cases have even close down and stop operating altogether. Even scarier is the idea that we could be seeing these numbers increase as we enter into a new phase of the pandemic during the winter season.

Small businesses account for millions of jobs across Canada, and they are our country’s entrepreneurial powerhouse. Without them, Canada risks prolonged unemployment rates and furthering the damage to the economy. For small businesses still operating, a large part of their success has been due to their ability to transition their workforce off-site. Having the capacity to run a business as employees work from home has been a key driver of business continuity through the pandemic and will continue to play an important role moving forward.

Remote Workforce Challenges

CDW Canada recently conducted a survey of small business owners to better understand the challenges they have faced during the shift to a remote workforce. Interestingly, we found that most respondents were able to navigate the transition to working remotely, with 40 percent stating their organization was prepared for the shift to remote work. That said, 19 percent of respondents stated they had some difficulties with the transition and 12 percent stated that while they were not prepared, but were still able to pivot. This demonstrates that, while a surprising number of small businesses took a proactive approach to remote infrastructure, there is still work to be done as an alarming amount were caught unaware.

Having essential IT tools and infrastructure in place is critical for employees to be able to get their work done, especially from home. Surprisingly, our survey found that 43 percent of respondents faced no challenges amid the pandemic, while 57 percent did experience some difficulties. Some of the leading challenges among respondents were 15 percent who indicated having the right endpoint solutions like laptops and webcams. Additionally, only 20 percent of small businesses noted they were challenged in enabling employees to work remotely with the appropriate collaboration tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, making it difficult for people to work together if they are not all in the same workplace. Even more concerning is that a mere 10 percent of small businesses said they educated employees about safe cybersecurity practices and ensured adherence during the pandemic, which is an essential component to protecting sensitive business information as employees work from home networks. This indicates that small businesses need to increase investment in their IT infrastructure capabilities as they continue to move forward through these tough times.

Investment in New Technology

Although the majority of small businesses weren’t prepared for the rapid transition and had to make investments, most will continue investing in technology moving through the pandemic and into the future. Nearly one quarter (24 percent) will continue investing in endpoint solutions while 18 percent will continue investing in security solutions. Concerningly, over one third of small business respondents (36 percent) aren’t committed to maintaining their investments. This is relevant not only to the pandemic, but also shows their organization could be left behind as new and innovative technology comes to market.

As we remain unsure of how the Canadian work landscape will look moving forward, our survey findings indicate that small business owners and employees remain optimistic. Small businesses will undoubtedly face many challenges ahead, both pandemic and non-pandemic related, but if Canada’s small businesses are known for one thing, it’s resiliency.  

From dedicated account managers to solution specialists, CDW Canada is here to provide advice and IT support every step of the way for small businesses. Connect with one of our small business experts today by visiting