With flexible working legislation being passed in the UK almost two years ago, it’s surprising to discover that we rank amongst the lowest adopters of this flexible mode of working. Allowing staff to work from home has been linked with higher levels of employee happiness and retention.
So why are we lagging behind our European counterparts when it comes to flexible working?
In a recent survey undertaken by Cornerstone OnDemand, 40% of UK employers are opposed to letting their employees work from home. The reasons for this are cited as being cultural resistance and that managers feel that work in best carried out on the business premises. The belief that close monitoring of employee productivity cannot effectively be managed remotely, and therefore many businesses do not support this type of flexible working.
This stigma around flexible working does not only apply to managers as some employees are also wary of this new way of working. The majority of employees (83%) that took part in the survey and who do work from home still spend more than half of their working days in the office.
However, the study has discovered a direct correlation between flexible working and happiness. Respondents in the Nordics (88%), Austria (84%), and Spain (81%) – countries with high levels of flexible working – had the highest scores for happiness and employee retention.
Many employees who work from home state that they have a far better work / life balance and also are more productive away from the office as they do not have as many distractions such as chatty workmates or a constantly ringing switchboard.
With so many countries adopting this mode of working and reaping the benefits of happier employees, lower operational costs due to decrease utility bills and enhanced productivity, the question why the UK has been so slow to introduce flexible working into their own businesses goes unanswered.
Setting employees up to work from home might carry an initial expense for phones, laptops and remote server access, but compare this with the savings over time with energy bills, tea and coffee etc. and put together with the increased happiness of your staff, there really is a good case to allow your employees the option to work from home.