Google has interviewed 3,500 small business employees across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, found that over three quarters (80%) made work-related New Year’s Resolutions.

The same three resolutions kept appearing - to work more efficiently, increase communication with colleagues and customers, and leaving work on time.

The similar pledges across the six nations reflected the frustrations felt by small businesses about working practices in 2012, where 71% of small business employees found life at work 'tough', with a lack of teamwork and long working hours cited as key bugbears.

And more than a third (38%) of workers said their workload was heavier in 2012 compared to 2011, according to Google.

Neil Delaney, director of small and medium businesses for EMEA at Google Enterprise commented in a press statement: “With so many resolving to work more efficiently, perhaps 2013 will be a turning point where we see more small businesses working smarter, collaborating more effectively with their colleagues and customers, and accessing the tools needed for better communication."

Among the other findings were:

  • More than half (54%) encountered email problems on a weekly basis, with mailbox size being the biggest issue
  • Arranging meetings similarly ate chunks out of the working week, with each meeting taking approximately an hour-and-a-half to arrange. With workers typically arranging one a week, that's more than six hours of time a month each spent on this task
  • Collating feedback from different people into one master document took up a lot of time too; on average, they did this seven times a month, taking approximately two hours to complete each time - almost two days a month

Teamwork proved to be another challenge for 76% of team members, who said they found it frustrating, with getting everyone in the same place at the same time to discuss projects being the biggest issue. Despite this, 61% said teamwork shortens the time it takes to complete projects and tasks by an average of 40%.

Christian Mouysset, co-owner of Hummus Bros, a small chain of restaurants based in central London with a turnover of £1.5 million, told Google effective communication was imperative to the success of his business.

"In order to continue to drive growth and be successful, it's important for me to be able to communicate and collaborate with my customers, my suppliers and my staff as easily and quickly as possible. With three different sites, it is getting harder and harder for my business partner and I to oversee every aspect of the business from one location, but we still need to make sure that communication lines are constantly open with staff and customers, wherever we are.

"Having online access to emails, documents and calendars is massively important to us, making it quicker and easier to do everything from scheduling the managers' meeting to responding to customer queries and collaborating on new recipes."