Despite many workers saying they feel trusted and that employers have done well in implementing working from home over the past month, almost half of workers expect a return to limited flexible working policies once the coronavirus lockdown ends.
A study into the attitudes of employees who are usually not allowed to work remotely, or who only did so rarely prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, showed that 77% feel employers have done a good job handling the remote work transition.
Flexible working and coronavirus
Three quarters said they believe their manager trusts them to be productive from home, although 31% relayed that their employer had enforced new processes to check on people’s output.
Only 9% said their employer has handled rolling out remote working poorly – an impressive show from companies who had previously resisted flexible work.
Sixty-eight per cent feel they are either more productive or equally productive from home – which is particularly significant given the unique challenges many workers face with handling childcare and home-schooling.
While 31% said their work-life balance had become easier since social distancing began, workers were not confident the experience will convince their employer to change their flexible work policies long-term. Almost half (47%) said their employer would ditch widespread remote working once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, instead reverting to their previous policies. But 28% said they don’t think their employer would go back to inflexible working.
Jan Schwarz, co-founder of people analytics company Visier, which commissioned the research, said: “It reflects positively on the UK’s HR industry that workers think companies who are new to remote working have handled a tough situation so well. These companies have had to transform themselves overnight and tackle major cultural and technological obstacles. They deserve real credit for their adaptability under real pressure.
“There are of course work activities and roles that are best served by face-to-face interaction, and some workers simply have a preference for it. But it’s still disappointing to hear so many respondents predict their employers will walk away from the change they have created once the worst of the crisis is over.”
Schwarz said Covid-19 had prompted the world’s “biggest home working experiment”, speeding up the future of work and will impact the way we think about work in the years to come.
“The worst thing that companies can do is ignore what they have learned about their workforce and how they like to operate. Companies who have resisted the new world of work until now have had their worlds turned upside down, but there is a real opportunity for HR leaders to help them continue their digital transformation,” he said.
Visier’s survey conducted by Censuswide and polled 1,000 UK workers who are currently working from home but who are either not normally allowed to work from home or who do so no more than once per week on average.