As many workers embark on formal hybrid working arrangements, a survey of line managers suggests a split in whether employees or employers should be responsible for the reliability of their home internet connection.
Half of managers (50%) polled by the Chartered Management Institute said employees should be responsible for ‘fit for work’ connectivity at home, while 42% said the onus is on their employers.
The researchers found that 85% of managers expected many of their staff to work remotely in September.
Almost all of the 1,029 managers polled believed that a reliable broadband connection for staff working remotely was crucial for organisational productivity, growth and inclusivity. Yet half (51%) said that staff had experienced problems resulting directly from unreliable broadband connections during periods of lockdown, with employees left unable to make video calls and being forced to drop out of important meetings.
Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said: “Poor connectivity could jeopardise this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our working practices for the better. If employees are to reap the benefits of dynamic working practices, then stable and reliable connectivity will be essential for business productivity.
“Any leader worth their salt knows that supporting employees to work flexibly will encourage diversity and inclusivity across companies. It will enable companies to tap into a wider talent pool from across the UK and empower individuals with more choice and autonomy in their professional lives.
The research, which was carried out with wholesale broadband provider CityFibre, suggests that there is no standard approach for how managers can best support employees experiencing connectivity issues.
Three in five managers (58%) polled said that no action had been taken by their organisation to help staff who were experiencing unreliable broadband connections during lockdown.
Even among those organisations where help was offered, the level of support varied – from payments to staff for them to fix their broadband issues, to the supply of additional routers and the use of mobile phone hot spots.
Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said: “It’s clear that businesses should care as much about their employees’ digital productivity at home as in the office. Relying on yesterday’s copper-based home broadband services will leave millions of employees struggling to connect and contribute while costing the economy untold millions in lost productivity.”