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Employers Must Not Rush the Return to the Workplace, says CIPD

Employers Must Not Rush the Return to the Workplace, says CIPD
06 April 2021
 

Despite calls from members of the UK government to end home working as soon as possible, new CIPD research has found that more employers reported increased productivity benefits from home working compared to last summer.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is stressing the need for employers to make hybrid working a success rather than rushing to return staff to workplaces and previous ways of working. Just last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a British newspaper that workers must be allowed to return to the office or they may “vote with their feet” and resign.

The productivity benefits of homeworking appear to have increased during the pandemic, with employers now more likely to say that the shift to homeworking has boosted productivity (33 per cent) than they were in June 2020 (28 per cent). This is according to a survey of 2,000 employers and in-depth interviews with seven organisations in different sectors.

The survey found employers are also less likely to say that increased homeworking has decreased productivity (23 per cent) compared to last summer (28 per cent), suggesting employers have had a significant net productivity benefit over the period. 38 per cent of employers say productivity has stayed the same (unchanged from June 2020). Overall, more than two thirds (71 per cent) of employers say that the increase in homeworking has either boosted or has made no difference to productivity.

Perceptions of productivity differed between organisations that had offered line manager training in managing remote workers and those that hadn’t. Of those employers who offered such training, 43 per cent said productivity had increased during homeworking, compared to only 29 per cent that hadn’t offered training.

The findings are part of a new CIPD report exploring how organisations can learn from ways of working during the coronavirus pandemic to make hybrid working (a mixture of working at home and in the workplace) a success. Two-thirds of employers surveyed report that they plan to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working to some degree, highlighting the need for organisations to take a strategic approach to home working to harness its benefits and improve working lives post-pandemic.

 

#Flexfrom1st

 

In its report, the CIPD stresses the need for employers to look at flexible options beyond homeworking, recognising that not all roles can be done from home. The CIPD is calling for organisations and the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees through its #FlexFrom1st campaign, to help boost the number of people using a variety of flexible working arrangements.

Some employers are considering how to improve flexibility of hours, with almost half saying they plan to expand the use of flexi-time - altering workday start and finish times – to some degree. Fairness was cited as a key reason for this, according to 45 per cent of employers, who said employees who can’t work from home should still be able to benefit from flexible working arrangements.

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser for Resourcing and Inclusion at the CIPD, commented: “The pandemic has shown that ways of working that previously seemed impossible are actually possible. Organisations should take stock and carefully consider how to make hybrid working a success, rather than rushing people back to their workplace when there are clearly productivity benefits to homeworking.

“To make hybrid working a success in the long-term, employers need to implement a strategy that focuses on wellbeing, communication and collaboration to recognise people’s individual preferences. They must also provide appropriate training and support for managers, so they have the tools needed to support employees to work remotely. Organisations will need to be adaptable and take a tailored approach based on individual choice and need in order to maximise the benefits and minimise the challenges of hybrid working.

“It’s encouraging to hear some organisations are looking at other forms of flexible working, as we know that remote working isn’t an option for everyone. Those who cannot work from home should still be able to benefit from having more of a choice and a say in when and how they work. The CIPD’s #FlexFrom1st campaign calls on organisations and government to make flexible working requests a day-one right to boost the number of employees using flexible arrangements, giving more opportunity and choice to all.”

More information on the CIPD’s #FlexFrom1st campaign can be found here.

Picture: a photograph of a desk, with a notepad, laptop and mug

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 06 April 2021

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