New research shows that almost one in three UK workers believe that the increasing prominence of remote working and flexible hours is damaging the average office ambience.
Findings come shortly after a leading psychologist warned that the introduction of flexible working has caused employees to “graze” through work at all hours, leaving them little time to relax and unwind.
The survey, commissioned by facilities and building maintenance specialists Direct365, found that 31 percent of British workers are concerned that traditional office culture is in danger of being lost because so many of their colleagues are able to work remotely at any given time.
Breaking the findings down, it’s clear that workers over the age of 55 are the most likely to say that flexible working is having an adverse effect on team spirit. Meanwhile, the 18 to 24 year old and 25-34 age groups were among the biggest supporters of remote working provisions, highlighting a clear generational divide.
In June 2014, all UK employees were given the legal right to request flexible working arrangements after 26 weeks of employment. It was hoped that the introduction of such regulations would help to improve the work-life balance of the nation’s workforce, but there are arguments to suggest that the increasing prominence of remote working is actually having the opposite effect, as professionals are finding it difficult to switch off and relax. p.
Emma Gilroy, Brand Development Manager at Direct365, thinks that employers also need to consider the impact that their flexible working policies might have on the general ambience of their workplace.
“This isn’t an attack on flexible working by any means. Such policies, when implemented sensibly, can be mutually beneficial for employers and employees alike,” she commented.
“However, a lot of businesses are clearly struggling to find the right balance, with one in three people stating that the atmosphere in their office has suffered because so many of their colleagues are missing at the same time.
“Although companies are legally obliged to consider flexible working requests from staff, they shouldn’t lose sight of how these arrangements will impact the wider team. It’s arguably far harder to build a bond and strong team ethos if everybody is working in different locations. We’re in danger of losing good old-fashioned ‘watercooler talk’!”
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.