Employers slow to respond to home working requests

Research has highlighted the disconnect between employers’ and employees’ views on home working, as only 14% of UK office workers have been mandated to work from home full time during the Coronavirus outbreak

However, 52% of office workers have expressed a preference to work from home.

PR agency Tyto polled 1,000 office workers across the UK and found a significant disparity between the action taken by employers in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak and employee desire for measures to be taken.

Yesterday (17 March) prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to work from home and avoid non-essential travel. However, only 37% of those polled believe their employers are ready for compulsory home working.

The government also advised people to practise ‘social distancing’ by avoiding bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and any other places where people gather in large groups.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to outline further support for businesses at a Coronavirus-related press conference with Johnson today.

Despite the latest government advice it may be difficult for many to work from home effectively. Less than half (41%) of respondents were confident that their employer has the technology infrastructure in place to enable them to work productively and securely from home.

At the time of the poll (13 March) almost half of office workers (44%) were still expected to work from the office as normal, with less than one fifth (18%) having the flexibility to work from home voluntarily.

Awareness of employers’ plans is also still very low, with just 27% of office workers having been fully briefed on their company’s home working plan and 40% having not been briefed whatsoever.

Tyto co-founder and managing partner Brendon Craigie said: “It isn’t surprising employers are playing catch-up given the extraordinary circumstances, but it is unfortunate given the feelings of employees.

The technology now exists to seamlessly enable home working and organisations that operate entirely remote models can be as productive and secure as those working in a traditional office setup.”

Craigie stated that employers should be establishing a clear action plan for home working with immediate effect, as it should be a priority to ensure employees’ concerns are taken seriously and disruption to productivity is minimised.

He added: “We might see this scenario act as a catalyst for employers to allow more flexible working in future, given they'll have adapted their capabilities to enable this now.”