Opportunities for flexible working are increasing in UK firms as remote working has increased by 37 percent in the last three years according to new research from recruitment consultancy, Robert Half.

The study has revealed that 60 percent of HR directors believe that giving employees greater autonomy over their working styles and practices, including remote working and flexi-time, results in a growth in productivity.

This counters the argument that remote working without direct physical supervision leads to a decrease in productivity.

HR directors increasingly believe that offering greater flexibility to employees results in positive business benefits. Over half (51 percent) of the HR directors surveyed thought that greater employee autonomy would boost creativity and 45 percent believe it helps with employee management.

Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half comments:

“Just because employees are at their desks in the office doesn’t mean they are always working productively.  Employees can work just as effectively remotely, especially now that advancements in technology have enabled us to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions in the office. With UK businesses facing a skills shortage, companies need to consider offering a positive working environment that supports the needs of a modern workforce in order to attract and retain top talent.

“Before implementing a flexible working initiative, companies should ensure they have a proper structure in place so that benefits for employees are balanced with business needs.  Firms should also look at how they utilise flexible contracts and staff resourcing to support those who choose to work in a more traditional setting. ”

The survey reveals that public sector workers are leading the way with remote working. Among public sector workers remote working has increased by 47 percent in the last three years. This trend is being replicated in the private sector, though at a slower rate of progression a third of companies have been increasing remote working opportunities in the last three years.

Also revealed in the survey was a clear regional divide regarding the prevalence of remote working. Employers in London are radically increasing opportunities for remote working, with 53 percent of firms expanding these opportunities in the past three years.

With rising costs of commuting to the capital each year and many commutes taking a significantly time, many employees are now promoting spending more time working from home. In the North of England and Scotland remote working opportunities have declined over the same period.

 

200 HR directors were asked about the prevalence of remote working in last three years:

Region Increased Decreased Stayed the same
London/South East 53% 23% 23%
South West / Wales 18% 30% 50%
Midlands 55% 18% 28%
North 25% 20% 50%
Scotland 35% 23% 43%
Average 37% 23% 39%

Source: Robert Half UK 2015