More employers are reporting that home and hybrid working has improved productivity, but one in four still want their employees to be in the office all the time.
Research by the CIPD found that a potential mismatch is emerging between the working preferences of organisations and their employees. Twenty-five per cent of employers want their employees to be in the office or on site all the time, while 39% of employees would like to work from home all or most of the time.
This is despite an increase in the proportion of employers reporting productivity gains from home or hybrid working. Forty-one per cent of employers polled in October and November 2021 said new ways of working had increased productivity or efficiency, up from 33% a year earlier.
The research involving 1,196 employers published by the CIPD today also shows a decrease in the proportion stating that home or hybrid working have had a negative impact on productivity (18% in 2021, down from 23% in 2020).
The HR body urged organisations to collaborate with employees to develop and implement hybrid and flexible working practices. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of 2,166 employees polled in January and February 2022 said their employer had not asked them about their future working preferences.
One in four employees was concerned about being treated unfavourably if they worked from home or in a hybrid way. Almost half (48%) of employers recognised there were potential inclusion risks arising from home or hybrid working models.
“This is a crucial moment for flexible working, but a mismatch on expectations and an ad-hoc approach could set back progress,” said Claire McCartney, the CIPD’s senior policy adviser for resourcing and inclusion.
“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.
“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.”
The CIPD advised employers to have transparent policies that outline eligibility and access to hybrid working. Policies should be inclusive and ensure that all staff have equal opportunities for learning and development and reward and recognition, regardless of when and where they work, or their role.
The HR body has also called for all employees to gain the right to flexible working from their first day in employment. Currently, employees are only entitled to a right to request flexible working after six months continuous service, which the CIPD argues can discourage employees from diverse groups from applying for new roles.
The government consultation into a day-one right to request flexible working concluded in December 2021, but a response has not yet been published.