Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Flexible Working & Remote Workers - Managing Absence & Productivity is Key

There is no doubt that the largest growing area of workers in the UK is those who work remotely.

Working remotely is by no means new.  Mobile technicians and engineers, sales professionals and divisional managers, who spend their time mostly on the road, have often used their car or van as 'the office' and have typically filled in paperwork in a corner of their homes.

However, thanks to the recent right for workers to request flexible working from their employers, along with growth in technology that makes it feasible, more and more workers are working from home, in fact the latest data from CV-Library, the UK's largest job board, suggests that home-workers are more productive, happier and more capable of attaining a healthy work/life balance than those who work in an office.

The job site surveyed over 1,800 UK professionals to gauge the working lifestyle of home-based employees and the nation's opinions on this way of working. Key results showed that:

  • 18.2% of UK professionals work from home, with a further 15.4% splitting their time between home and the office
  • 84.3% of home-workers believe they are equally or more productive than office-workers
  • Over three quarters (77.4%) of the UK’s entire working population agree that working from home has a positive impact on productivity
  • 83.2% of home-workers find it easier to successfully manage a good work/life balance
  • 65.8% of home-workers believe they worker longer hours than office-based staff
  • Flexible working hours and missing gruelling commutes are the main contributions to increased productivity (27.9% and 26% respectively)

Results show that there are clear advantages to both businesses and employees when staff are able to work from home. The benefits of flexitime, fewer meetings and no gruelling commutes to the office make those that work from home more productive, happier and more able to achieve a healthy work/life balance; all of which is essential in creating valuable and successful employees.

One business who perhaps understands the challenges of working from home better than any other is software firm Codel.  Adrian Lewis, commercial director explains:

"The benefits of remote working, managed well, can be incredible, indeed for programmers and writers a quiet home environment without interruptions can be a massive boost to productivity - but it can pose challenges in tackling issues like staff absence in remote workers, i.e. when is someone working from home, and when are they on their day off, or off sick?  Businesses need to know clearly when someone should be working, and how to co-ordinate planned leave and arrange sickness cover."

"Home workers get annoyed when called about non-urgent matters or questioned about productivity on their days off, and co-workers who do not work flexibly get annoyed if their home-working colleagues 'appear' to take more holiday than them - so if your people are working from home, it is vital to have systems that manage this."

Cloud based systems like Codel's Activ Absence are a useful tool because they can be accessed anywhere via a web browser or a mobile phone.  They make it simple and straightforward for remote workers to request leave or report sickness absence in the same way that their office based colleagues do, and their office based colleagues can be given access to see who is off, when, even if they work remotely.  Adrian says:

"The cloud is revolutionising the way we manage people, and thats a good thing.   Software is pushing the boundaries of the way we work, giving people more freedom - and today's data from CV Library shows it is good for people too - many of our staff work from home on some occasions and it has not caused us a problem."

Codel employee Lisa Baker, says "for most home workers, it's about juggling family commitments and getting a good home life balance!  For me it's about getting peace and quiet when I'm working on the website or writing - I get twice as much done without the distractions of the office!"

Lee Biggins, CV-Library's founder and managing director, comments: “Despite the increasing number of hours that British staff are working, productivity rates remain low in the UK, indicating that our approach to business and the working day needs to shift. Whilst home-working isn't suitable for all businesses, it can provide clear benefits to companies and employees alike. As long as employers manage their employees effectively and monitor productivity levels, it should be easy to determine which environment works best for staff, and ultimately, the company’s output.”  

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