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  • Lee Calver
  • 21 April 2015
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Employees being offered more flexible working opportunities

According to new research from recruitment consultancy, Robert Half, opportunities for flexible working are increasing in UK firms as remote working has increased by 37% in the last three years.

This trend seems to be growing worldwide with figures suggesting that more than 30 million Americans work from home now, while Forrester Research’s US Telecommuting Forecast predicts that number will rise to 63 million by next year – meaning 43% of the US workforce will be working remotely by 2016.

The Robert Half study, based on interviews with 200 HR Directors revealed that 60% believe that giving employees greater autonomy over their working styles and practices, including remote working and flexi-time, results in a growth in productivity.

Furthermore, the research found that respondents also feel that offering greater autonomy to employees results in positive business benefits. 51% believe that greater employee autonomy boosts creativity, whilst 45% stated that it makes employees easier to manage.

Robert Half Managing Director, Phil Sheridan, comments:

“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.”

The survey also revealed that public sector workers are leading the remote working revolution as figures show remote working amongst public sector workers has increased by 47% in the last three years. While this trend is being replicated in the private sector, it is at a slower rate, with a third of companies increasing remote working opportunities in the last three years.

Clear regional division when it comes to the popularity of remote working is also apparent when assessing the research study. It found that employers in London are increasing opportunities for remote working, with 53% of companies expanding these opportunities in the past three years.

While the cost of commuting to the capital is increasing year on year, many commutes also take up a significant period of the working day. As a result, employees are now pushing for the opportunity to spend more time working from home. Despite the increased levels of opportunity in London, the survey revealed that in the North of England and Scotland, remote working opportunities have declined over the same period.

Offering advice to employers considering looking into allowing employees to work remotely, Phil Sheridan said:

“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.”