Report shows remote work doesn’t affect productivity & can boost it

A new report shows the productivity benefits of homeworking have increased over the course of the pandemic, with employers who provide support for line managers being more likely to say productivity has increased.

Employee works from home


More than two thirds of employers say that homeworking has either boosted or has made no difference to productivity, according to a new survey from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, which shows homeworking productivity has increased during the pandemic.

The survey of 2,000 employers and in-depth interviews with seven organisations in different sectors found employers are more likely to say that the shift to homeworking has boosted productivity (33%) than they were in June 2020 (28%).

Employers are also less likely to say that increased homeworking has decreased productivity (23%) compared to last summer (28%). 38% of employers say productivity has stayed the same (unchanged from June 2020).

Perceptions of productivity differed between organisations that had offered line manager training in managing remote workers and those that hadn’t. Of those employers who offered such training, 43% said productivity had increased during homeworking, compared to only 29% that hadn’t offered training.

Two-thirds (63%) of employers surveyed report that they plan to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working to some degree.

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. Its research shows, for instance, that part-time hours are currently used by 19% of workers, yet desired by 28%. In addition, just 3% of employees said they currently use compressed hours (working full-time hours in fewer days), while 19% would use this arrangement if available.

Some employers are considering how to improve flexibility of hours, with almost half (48%) saying they plan to expand the use of flexi-time – altering workday start and finish times – to some degree. Fairness was cited as a key reason for this, according to 45% of employers, who said employees who can’t work from home should still be able to benefit from flexible working arrangements.

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.

Meanwhile, PwC has joined other employers who have announced a move to hybrid working after the pandemic. It has also said that staff can finish at lunchtime on Friday during July and August. Kevin Ellis, the Big Four firm’s chairman and senior partner, said staff will spend 40%-60% of their time with colleagues, with an average of two to three days per week either in the office or at client sites. The decision to adopt permanent flexible working also allows staff to decide the most effective working patterns on any given day, giving them the freedom to choose their start and finish times.

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