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Almost two thirds of UK office workers believe they can be as productive or more productive when working from home than they would be in the office, according to research from Skype and YouGov.
Skype and YouGov say the survey of more than 2,000 adults points to the UK lagging behind countries celebrated for more liberal working practices such as Finland, Sweden, Australia and the United States.
Despite the fact that 70% of those polled said that they wanted to work from home more, in reality over half of all office workers (51%) said they were not permitted to do so and less than a third have worked from home in the past twelve months.
Linda Summers, Director of Product Marketing at Skype, says: “Our research shows a clear divide between the views of employers and employees but both united by a common goal – how might we create an environment which allows us to do our jobs more effectively?
“Office based workers would prefer to have more flexible working structures whilst employers are concerned that productivity would be affected. What neither seems to have fully realised is that technological advances actually allow you to have both.”
Nearly a third of those polled (31%) said that lack of face-to-face time is a critical reason for not working as effectively from home.
“When you contrast 31% of people pointing to lack of face time as a reason for lower productivity with only 6% of them having access to video conferencing facilities, you start to wonder whether the challenge is technological or behavioural,” says Summers. “People are saying they want to work from home, they are productive when they do so, they just don’t want to feel isolated.”
Having verbal and face-to-face contact is crucial to 73% of those polled, who believe telephone and video conferencing software helps them to be more productive when working from home, but businesses which routinely offer them are in the minority.
“Simply put,” Summers continues, “We want to replicate the physical and emotional benefits of working within an office environment at home. This research allows us to start looking at the topic more broadly and ask whether the main challenge to the UK when it comes to flexible working is to do with infrastructure or creating more technologically social workplaces where tools like instant messaging, video conferencing and simple telephone conferencing are the norm.”