Employers not reaping the full benefits of remote workforces report finds

A white paper on The Future of Working From Home shows that while remote working increases wellbeing and productivity in employees, lack of support from employers may be costing businesses an even more productive workforce.

Remote working looks like it is here to stay even after the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have subsided and all social distancing restrictions are lifted. Despite government protocols allowing for a return to office life, a recent survey suggests that almost two-thirds of businesses and their employees are agreeing hybrid working models where attendance in the office is limited to two or three days per week, or even less in some cases.

Employer wellness programmes that include a remote working aspect help people to adopt and maintain behaviours that form long-term healthy lifestyles. Recent findings on the wellbeing of professionals in the family law sector showed that 89% had experienced negative wellbeing as a result of their work, and that remote working was cited as a possible solution to achieving a better work-life balance.

Studies also show that remote working increases the productivity of employees. A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over 9 months found that working from home increases productivity by 13%. This increase in performance was due to a quieter, more convenient working environment, and employees generally taking fewer breaks and sick days. In the same study, workers also reported improved work satisfaction, and attrition rates were reduced by 50%.

Remote working doesn’t just have an impact on employee wellbeing; it has a knock-on effect on business returns too. Comfortable employees are happier, and happier employees are more productive. A recent white paper on The Future of Working From Home also showed that organisations with highly effective health and productivity programmes report 11% higher revenue per employee, 1.8 fewer days absent per employee per year and 28% greater shareholder returns. So by combining the traditional benefits of external equipment with the emerging productivity perks of working from home, organisations can get the best from their employees, wherever they work.

However while as many as 83% of employees felt they didn’t need to be in the office, 62% of remote workers want employers to provide better technology, helping them to stay connected with colleagues and work more efficiently, The Future of Working From Home white paper shows.

Helping people connect makes collaborative work and relationship building much easier and is particularly important for people who crave human interaction or prefer not to feel isolated. But it was found that employees aren’t always given the technology that they need to work from home effectively.

The sudden shift to widespread working from home has also left a lot of people “making do” with a laptop, using personal equipment to conduct business affairs, or using equipment that is simply not fit for purpose, the white paper found. Studies have shown that the addition of a second screen can provide a 42% productivity increase over using a laptop alone and while are often provided in the office, are not in remote work spaces.

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser for Resourcing and Inclusion at CIPD, commented about the responsibility of organisations when it comes to remote working:

“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.”

In addition, data sensitive businesses like many of those operating within the legal profession need to consider the efficacy of their remote working policies when it comes to data protection and cyber security. The Future of Working From Home white paper also offers guidance on this, particularly around the securing of physical devices. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has also issued guidance on client confidentiality for solicitors working remotely, and has made it clear that it would expect to see documented all processes established for working with clients in this way.

The upshot of the white paper implies that some employers need to do more when it comes to supporting remote workers, not just from a wellbeing perspective but from a practical one too. Previous reports have also called for greater employer responsibility when it comes to preparing remote workforces.

The Future of Working From Home white paper includes two checklists that may be adopted by employers to facilitate the wellbeing and productivity of employees. A productivity checklist includes instructions that can help employers and employees optimise home office workstations, and a wellbeing checklist can help employees to achieve more ergonomic work environments.

The Future of Working From Home white paper can be accessed here.

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