Half of employers not geared up for remote ‘smart’ working, amid coronavirus fears

48% of businesses in the UK are not in any way set-up to be able to accommodate workers who may need to self-isolate – should they display any symptoms of a cold or flu.

What’s more, a large proportion of employers are not taking ‘reasonable steps’ to prepare staff to work from home. 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 (56%) and remote-working capabilities (25%) 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: “Advances in technology have been changing the way companies and employees work for some years now. With teams more dispersed and covering more time zones, working with others via phone, virtual meetings and video is slowly becoming the norm.

“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.”

“What COVID-19 has highlighted to many UK companies is despite companies having ‘all of the gear,’ we are essentially a while away from being able to ‘push the button’ on remote working.

“Work needs to be done to build trust amongst employers and employees, as well as ironing out clear working practices and guidelines for those working remotely. As more Millennials and Gen Z professionals enter our workforce, we can expect the pressure to mount for companies to increase their flexible working practices to be able to accommodate a generation who are more in tune with their wellbeing and health.”

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