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Over half of small companies concern social distancing is affecting their probabilities of survival: survey

A cone to promote social distancing sits on the floor of a restaurant and bar in Austin, Texas, USA on Saturday, May 23, 2020.

Alex Scott | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. governors allow restaurants to reopen, some limited to al fresco dining, but some at full capacity. A new survey reveals one reason there is pressure to get Main Street businesses like food back to normal: Over half (55%) of small business owners fear that continued social distancing measures that limit business capacity are affecting their chances of survival.

This is according to a new survey by Verizon Business, released on Monday and conducted by Morning Consult, that focused on 600 small and medium-sized businesses that are currently open or planning to reopen. The national survey was conducted from August 26 to September 4, 2020 and surveyed companies in a wide variety of industries, from construction and retail to restaurants, bars and real estate.

Just over half (52%) of small business decision-makers said they had concerns about their own job security, compared to 56% in the previous wave of the April survey.

Even if entrepreneurs worry about the ongoing impact of the public health crisis, many are feeling better about their financial health than they did in April, when the stalemate spread across the US. However, the conditions remain difficult. 67 percent of respondents said they saw sales decline, an improvement from 78 percent in April.

If conditions stay the same, 72% believe they can stay open for at least six months or more.

"It is critical for us to understand the barriers our small business customers face," said TJ Fox, president of Verizon Business Markets, in a survey.

Work from home on Main Street

Small businesses are adapting to the new work environment created by the Covid-19 pandemic. 36% say they have implemented new systems or technologies to enable remote collaboration. Of these companies, 67% said they had challenges and the risk of employee burnout. Fifty-six percent of small businesses with remote workers report that working from home has blurred the lines between work and personal life.

But as in the corporate world, the picture is mixed when it comes to working from home. 62 percent of small businesses with remote workers say that working remotely has enabled employees to balance work and personal responsibility more effectively. 59 percent of small businesses that work remotely say that working remotely has made it difficult for employees to feel connected. Less than half (49%) say that remote work has increased employee satisfaction and morale.

Another key takeaway related to Coronavirus politics: 81% of small business owners, regardless of party affiliation, say the 2020 elections will have an impact on the small business sector, while 57% say it will have direct consequences for their business. These findings come from the fact that Washington D.C. is still negotiating another round of financial relief for businesses and changes to the credit requirements of the existing paycheck protection program.

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