Nearly a third of small businesses are considering plans to force their staff to work from home over winter, to pass on the cost of soaring energy prices.

Research from Smart Energy GB, a smart meter company, found that 30% of companies have considered temporarily closing workplaces if they can.

Energy bills are set to soar amid a huge increase in the price of buying gas on the global market, a squeeze which has put many energy suppliers out of business.

Now 62% of small businesses are worried about rising energy costs and whether it will affect their ability to operate over winter.

“Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy but it is clear concerns about energy use are affecting how many of them will continue to operate this winter,” said Iagan MacNeil, Smart Energy GB’s head of policy.

Companies are now planning to tighten their belts, as more than nine in ten say they are trying to become more energy efficient.

And 57% of employees say they are doing their bit to try to save money for their employer by reducing their energy use.

However the survey also found that 60% charge their phones at work to avoid doing it at home, while 29% shower at work.

“Whether it’s turning off unused equipment or ensuring your bills are accurate, it all adds up. But the solution needs to be a collaborative approach with everyone playing a part.

“Many businesses are eligible to get a smart meter installed on their premises and this can help by giving you more control over your energy spend – a vital tool for those worried about rising prices.

“To find out if your business is eligible for a smart meter, contact your energy supplier.”