Flexible workers battle 'work from home' stigma

Almost half (46%) of UK employees feel the need to combat a perception that working from home is less productive than being in the office, according to LogMeIn

While 36% of workers admitted to suffering from pressure to appear 'more responsive' on email while working remotely, 23% also felt pressure to work more hours.

However, despite the stigma, the research suggested that working from home can be more productive than office working. Almost a third (29%) of employees cited distraction in the office as a barrier to productivity, with 29% admitting that they wasted time at work browsing the internet or chatting to co-workers.

Working from home also offers a greater work/life balance, the research found, with flexibility around breaks (65%), finding it easier to focus on tasks (35%), and avoiding a long commute (52%) listed as benefits.

Steve Duignan, VP international marketing at LogMeIn, added that the research highlights a lack of trust in businesses. “This points to a clear problem within the culture of UK businesses and ultimately reduces productivity. My advice to businesses would be to trust your employees to do the job, and don’t miss the opportunity to improve their wellbeing," he said.

Jane van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, said that its own research had shown flexible working is particularly beneficial to parents.

“Working Families’ research with parents shows nearly a quarter of fathers and mothers identify home working as something that would improve their work/life balance," she said. "Parents report that being able to work from different locations (including home) confers the highest levels of control over start and finish times and number of hours worked, compared with other types of flexible working.”

She added that while employers often saw flexible workers as equally committed, there are fears among those who work from home that their career may be damaged because of negative perceptions.

“Flexible workers are viewed as equally committed and effective as their colleagues," she said. "However, among those that work flexibly, including from home, fears about career damage and negative perceptions remain."

Employers should look to their workplace culture to see why some employees feel guilt about flexible working, she added. “Employers should look further than the policies around flexibility they have in place and make an effort to understand their workplace culture, in particular why some employees feel self-conscious about where they are delivering their work from.

"With this understanding they can begin to tackle negative perceptions about flexible working; moving their rhetoric about it being a normal and accepted way of working to becoming a reality for their employees.”

The LogMeIn research surveyed 500 UK employees.