Staples Survey Reveals Increased Technological Dependency of Small Business Owners

Framingham, Massachusetts (PRESS RELEASE – January 6, 2011) – The 5th Annual National Staples Small Business Survey (Nasdaq: SPLS) reveals that 60 percent of small business owners admit to spending more time holding their mobile devices than the hand of their significant others. But that might not necessarily be a bad thing. While this new “phonemance” phenomenon would seemingly have the potential to overtake family time, the increasing popularity of the “virtual office” actually illustrates how technology is enabling small business owners to achieve both increased productivity and a better work-life balance.

“This survey reflects the constant challenge for small business owners to adapt to the nonstop demands of the job and the technology that make it easy to always stay connected”

The Internet poll explored the use of technology and social media, and its positive and negative effects on productivity and work-life balance. The results found that the unpredictable economy, continued downsizing and increased responsibilities have pressured U.S. small business owners to mix business with pleasure.

  • 43 percent of small business owners reveal working during hours spent with family
  • 68 percent who own a mobile device rely on just one for both personal and business use making it difficult to “switch off” during family time

However, this increased dependency on technology also comes with benefits as it allows small business owners the ability to bring their office anywhere, from home to the Little League field. The virtual office now allows them to stay plugged in providing many small business owners the flexibility they haven’t achieved in the past.

“Technology and mobile devices, in particular, can actually be good for family relationships, allowing Mom or Dad to stay plugged in with work while simultaneously attending events – ball games, school events – that were historically only possible for the non-working parent to attend,” said Dr. Seth Meyers, a licensed clinical psychologist, relationship expert and author. “Though the small business owner’s attention may be divided in such contexts, it allows for greater balance than life before such technology allowed.”

Other survey findings suggest that technology and “phonemancing” are actually enabling small businesses owners to achieve a better balance:

  • 56 percent of owners and managers are taking advantage of the “virtual office” spending less time working at their desk with the help of technology
  • 52 percent now feel more comfortable taking a vacation because they can stay plugged-in versus just 35 percent last year
  • 40 percent of significant others don’t seem to mind the new phonemancing behavior and support the small business owner’s need to work more to help make ends meet…even if that creeps in to relationship-time

However, “phonemance” has not completely trumped romance. When asked whether they would feel greater withdrawal to go a week without their significant other than a day without their smart phone or mobile device, 63 percent said they would miss their partner more than their phone.

“This survey reflects the constant challenge for small business owners to adapt to the nonstop demands of the job and the technology that make it easy to always stay connected,” said John Giusti, vice president of small business marketing at Staples. “Staples keeps a pulse on the changing needs of small business owners and managers, and will continue to provide products and services to support these evolving trends.”

Staples Makes it Easy for Small Business Owners

To help small businesses to meet their increasing demands for technology, Staples offers a wide variety of products and services to help keep their offices, real or “virtual,” up and running throughout the year. From the latest in technology featuring a broad selection of high-end laptops, wireless printers and tech accessories, to small business services like Staples Copy & Print and the Staples Rewards program, Staples makes it easy for small business owners to achieve success wherever their workplace is.

In addition, to help small business owners stay connected, Staples EasyTechs provide customers with a wide range of technology services at every U.S. store such as new computer set-up, hardware and software installations, data transfer and security, and repair and troubleshooting including the Free PC Tune-Up. Regardless of where the computer was purchased, certified in-store technicians will clean out system clutter, optimize platform Windows performance, organize hard drive files, identify security vulnerabilities and assess memory and performance.

About the Survey

For the 5th year, Staples conducted an Internet survey among small-business owners and senior executives. The survey was developed by Staples and conducted by Decision Analyst, Inc. in Arlington, TX. Decision Analyst surveyed by Internet a nationally representative random sample of 300 owners and executives of American businesses having no more than 20 employees. All respondents were members of American Consumer Opinion online, Decision Analyst’s proprietary Internet-based consumer-opinion panel with over 7,500,000 members globally. Interviews were conducted from November 19 to November 23, 2010. Such a sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Staples

Staples, the world’s largest office products company, is committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products and services. Our broad selection of office supplies, electronics, technology and office furniture as well as business services, including computer repair and copying and printing, helps our customers run their offices efficiently. With 2009 sales of $24 billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia serving businesses of all sizes and consumers. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today ranks second worldwide in e-commerce sales. The company is headquartered outside Boston.

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