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Flexibility survey

Workers more productive at home say employers

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Firms need to learn more about home working

Productivity benefits of homeworking appear to have increased during the pandemic, according to new research.

Employers are now more likely (39%) to say that the shift to working from home has boosted output than they were in June last year (30%).

CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, reports that the proportion of Scottish employers who say productivity has stayed the same has also dropped to 31% from 37%.

Overall, more than two-thirds (70%) of employers say that the increase in homeworking has either boosted or has made no difference to productivity. 

The findings are part of a new CIPD report looking at how organisations can learn from ways of working during the Coronavirus pandemic to make hybrid working (a mixture of working at home and in the workplace) a success. 

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Two-thirds (69%) of Scottish employers surveyed report that they plan to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working to some degree, highlighting the need for organisations to take a strategic approach to homeworking to harness the benefits and improve working lives post-pandemic. 

In its report, the CIPD stresses the need for employers to look at flexible options beyond homeworking, recognising that not all roles can be done from home.

The CIPD is calling for organisations and the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees through its #FlexFrom1st campaign, to help boost the number of people using a variety of flexible working arrangements. 

Some Scottish employers are considering offering other forms of flexible working, with over half (56%) saying they plan to expand the use of flexi-time – altering workday start and finish times – to some degree.  

The survey shows a change in employer attitudes over the year, with the proportion of Scottish employers saying that there were no benefits to homeworking dropping to 11% from 28% recorded in April 2020.

Additionally, the proportion of Scottish employers identifying the unsuitability of certain jobs for remote working as the key challenge dropped from 57% down to 34% over the same time period. 

Lee Ann Panglea, head of CIPD Scotland and Northern Ireland, comments:  “It is great to see positive employer attitudes to flexible working.

Lee Ann Panglea: employers need to be flexible

“However, to make hybrid working a success in the long-term, employers will need to implement a strategy which includes a focus on wellbeing, communication, boundary-setting and facilitating networking and effective collaboration.

“They must also provide appropriate training and support for managers so they have the tools required to support teams to work remotely.  

“Seeing Scottish employers planning to increase other forms of flexible working is also encouraging, as we know that remote working isn’t an option for everyone.

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“Those who cannot work from home should still be able to benefit from having more of a choice and a say in when and how they work.

“Employers must embrace a range of flexible working solutions to give opportunity and choice to all.” 

The report sets out seven strategies to make hybrid working a success: 

  • Develop the skills and culture needed for open conversations about wellbeing 
  • Encourage boundary-setting and routines to improve wellbeing and prevent overwork 
  • Ensure effective co-ordination of tasks and task-related communication 
  • Pay special attention to creativity, brainstorming and problem-solving tasks 
  • Build in time for team cohesion and organisational belonging, including face-to-face time 
  • Promote networking and relationship building across the organisation 
  • Organise support networks to compensate for the loss of informal/’on the job’ learning for those who are new to the organisation or role 

While the report shows progress has been made on flexibility of location, it’s clear there is more to do to improve flexibility in hours for all employees. 

CIPD research shows there is a significant gap between the arrangements Scottish employees currently use compared to those that they would use if offered. 

Flexi-time is currently used by 25%, yet desired by 53%. In addition, just 3% of Scottish employees reported that they currently use compressed hours (working full-time hours in fewer days), while 21% would use this arrangement if available.

To address this, organisations should look at job design, as well as analysing tasks across teams and at individual level to see where greater flexibility could be built in.  



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