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Gearing Up For Remote ‘smart’ Working

May 5, 2020

Top reasons stopping UK employers implementing a remote working policy include:

  • 60% fear employees may abuse the policy
  • 45% state that it would be difficult to supervise employees
  • 41% claim remote working makes it difficult to track staff performance and productivity

The findings come from a recent whitepaper from global recruiter Robert Walters – A Smart Workplace for the Workforce of the Future.

Whilst flexi-hours and remote-working capabilities are some of the top valued perks by UK employees, it appears that these benefits are typically reserved for those in senior positions - with 65% at senior management/board level being able to benefit from flexible working arrangements, compared with just 34% of junior staff.

Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters, comments: “The business case for smart working is clear; adopting a digital workplace helps to streamline operations, enhance speed of communication, and drastically improve access to information in a much more effective way. Flexible working arrangements are no longer considered just a perk for employees; they are a crucial business strategy to help encourage workforce diversity, attract talent, and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.”

Top reasons employers adopt smart-working practices:

  • 72% - to improve workflow and overall staff productivity
  • 58% - to strengthen collaboration between staff and improve communication
  • 54% - digital transformation is a global trend
  • 22% - to track results & streamline decision-making
  • 17% - to attract and retain talent

How professionals feel about smart working:

  • 85% - productivity is enhanced
  • 80% - feel motivated to work on a tech-savvy company
  • 78% - coordination between departments is enhanced
  • 42% - work-life balance is hindered
  • 22% - fear workplace technologies will replace jobs
  • 11% - difficult to learn and apply new technologies

Chris Hickey shares his top tips for employers to help overcome concerns around flexible-working arrangements:

Changing from behaviour-based to outcome-based assessment: On a day-to-day basis, managing smart working requires a move from behaviour-based monitoring to outcome based mindset. Instead of solely assessing performance according to what an employee is seen to be doing, managers should take their output or other deliverables into account and establish an environment of mutual trust.

Devising innovative alternatives to face-to-face communication: Flexible working can create communication challenges, as employees may feel less connection with each other. This can lead to a lower sense of belonging. Apart from specifying a set time of the week when the team can get together, we also advise managers to use alternative tools such as instant messaging and virtual meetings to foster communication.

Create an open culture of flexibility: Companies should also create a culture where employees do not feel they will be disadvantaged by flexible working arrangements. Some new joiners may struggle to learn if their manager or team members are not around. Managers are strongly recommended to discuss flexible working arrangements openly with all team members to ensure that everyone is treated equally.

Beware of ‘burn-out’: With the use of mobile devices, the line between work and private life is blurring. Managers are advised to conduct reviews to ensure remote working employees are not working excessively as this can lead to high stress level and ‘burn-out’. Signs to look out for are a reduction in productivity/output, uncharacteristic detachment and increased cynicism or complaining.


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