The number of employers who report that an increase in remote working has increased their organisation’s efficiency has jumped significantly over the last year, according to new research from the CIPD.
When asked in December 2020, a third (33%) of employers said homeworking had increased their organisation’s productivity or efficiency.
However, when asked about increased home/hybrid working in October/November 2021, over two-fifths (41%) said these new ways of working had increased this.
At the same time, the number of employers that say the increase in home and hybrid working has had a negative impact on their organisation’s productivity has fallen.
Under a fifth (18%) of employers say it has decreased productivity, compared to 23% who previously said the rise in homeworking had decreased productivity.
Despite the reported productivity improvements associated with home and hybrid working, there is a potential mismatch emerging between the ways organisations want their employees to work and how their people want to work.
One in four (25%) employers want their employees to be in the office/on site all the time, while 39 percent of employees would like to work from home all or most of the time going forward.
One reason for this mismatch is likely to be because a majority (63%) of employees who can work in a hybrid way still haven’t been asked about their future working preferences.
With increasing numbers of employees heading back to workplaces for at least part of the working week, it’s important that organisations consult and collaborate with their people when designing hybrid working practices to benefit both the organisation and individuals.
Greater communication is needed between employees and employers
“It’s great that many employers are embracing the benefits of more hybrid and flexible ways of working. However, it’s really important that they work collaboratively with employees to find solutions that work for both the organisation and individuals. This is a crucial moment for flexible working, but a mismatch on expectations and an adhoc approach could set back progress,” says Senior Policy Adviser for Resourcing and Inclusion at the CIPD, Claire McCartney.
The CIPD is urging employers to develop and implement hybrid and flexible working practices in collaboration with employees that are inclusive and offer more choice to all.
Organisations should have clear and transparent policies that outline eligibility and access to hybrid working. They should focus on principles of equality to ensure all employees have the same opportunities for learning and development and reward and recognition, regardless of when and where they work, or their role/level of seniority.
The CIPD believes a day-one right to request flexible working would help boost the number of people using a variety of flexible working arrangements – such as part-time working, compressed hours, or job shares – and has been calling for this change through its #FlexFrom1st campaign since February 2021.
Currently employees must have been in their role for six months before they can request flexible working which could discourage a diverse range of candidates from applying for roles and could see organisations lose key talent.
“Consulting with employees is a big part of developing inclusive hybrid and flexible working practices. Employers who listen and are open to testing, learning and adapting will benefit from a more diverse workforce and the ability to retain and attract a wide range of talent. This is particularly crucial at a time where the labour market is so tight,” says McCartney.
“Everyone should have the chance to benefit from more choice about when, where and how they work. This can lead to increased wellbeing and engagement, and enhanced performance, all of which can lead to the productivity gains many employers are reporting,” adds McCartney.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.