April 20, 2015
In the last three years the adoption of flexible working by UK organisations has increased by over a third (37 percent), according to new research published by recruitment consultants Robert Half. The study, based on interviews with 200 HR Directors also claims that concerns that remote working without direct physical supervision leads to a decrease in productivity are increasingly unfounded. The research reveals that 60 percent believe giving employees greater autonomy over working styles and practices including remote working and flexi-time results in increased productivity. Respondents also increasingly believe that offering greater autonomy to employees results in positive business benefits. Over half (51 percent) thought greater employee autonomy boosts creativity and almost half (45 percent) believe it makes employees easier to manage.
The findings reveal that public sector employers are leading the remote working revolution. Amongst public sector employers in the UK the prevalence of remote working has increased by almost half (47 percent) in the last three years. The trend is replicated in the private sector, though the rate of progress is slower with a third of companies increasing remote working opportunities in the last three years.
The research shows clear regional divisions when it comes to the prevalence of remote working. Employers in London are dramatically increasing opportunities for remote working, with 50 percent of firms expanding these opportunities in the last three years. With the cost of commuting into the Capital increasing each year and many commutes taking a significant time, many employees are lobbying to spend more time working from home. However, in the North of England and Scotland remote working opportunities have declined over the period.
Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half commented: “Just because employees are at their desks in the office doesn’t mean they are always working productively. Employees can work just as effectively remotely, especially now that advancements in technology have enabled us to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions in the office. With UK businesses facing a skills shortage, companies need to consider offering a positive working environment that supports the needs of a modern workforce in order to attract and retain top talent.”
“Before implementing a flexible working initiative, companies should ensure they have a proper structure in place so that benefits for employees are balanced with business needs. Firms should also look at how they utilise flexible contracts and staff resourcing to support those who choose to work in a more traditional setting. ”