Nervous managers block take up of homeworking

Many
managers are nervous about teleworking, but allowing employees to work from
home can bring significant benefits to both parties, according to research
published today by IRS Employment Review.

One-third
of employers surveyed allow office-based employees to work from home on an
occasional basis, for example to meet a deadline, to deal with a domestic
crisis, or because of a transport strike.

Managers
and professionals are more likely to work from home, yet management attitudes
can prevent other employees from being able to adopt the same flexible working
option. 

The
findings are based on responses from 54 HR departments across the private and
public sectors. 

The
survey finds that the benefits of promoting homeworking include:

·
Flexible working – cited by 33 per cent of respondents as the most common
benefit for work-life balance

·
Provision of office space – potential savings on office space – expressed by 19
per cent of respondents

·
Service delivery – 13 per cent of employers felt it had a positive effect on
employee performance

·
Employee satisfaction – 13  per cent of
employees believed this to be boosted by offering teleworking

·
Recruitment and retention factors – approximately 18 per cent of organisations
see home-based working as a   retention
tool.

The
study also highlights barriers to adopting home-working policies. 

These
include:

·
Nature of the work – 24 per cent of respondents expressed that their
organisations’ activities were not suitable for teleworking

·
Isolation – one-fifth of organisations expressed caution about lack of
interaction with other work colleagues

·
Performance management – 17 per cent of respondents believed it is difficult to
monitor and assess staff who work away from the office

·
Equality of opportunity – less than 10 per cent of respondents reported that
some roles are not suitable for homeworking so not everyone has the choice

·
Lack of control – not being able to monitor staff as they work off site.

IRS
Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail said: “Some organisations have
demonstrated that homeworking can be very successful. But as with any
non-standard working arrangement, it has to be monitored to ensure [its]
successful operation.

"Management
attitudes also need to be consistent. If senior staff can work from home, this
option should be broadened to lower ranks too.

"At
a time when employers are struggling to recruit and retain good staff, this may
be one way that delivers benefits to both parties. Setting up a homeworker can
be more cost effective than trying to find and train new staff, making it a
win-win situation and a very positive employment policy.”

By Ben Willmott

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