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HR departments fail to bridge the gap between flexible working policy and practice

The majority of businesses claim to have flexible working policies but 61% of employees never or hardly ever work from home.

According to a poll of 1,200 small and medium-sized businesses, over half (55%) do not see how remote working could increase employee productivity, for example, by allowing staff to utilise more of their day or by enabling greater opportunity to concentrate on thought-intensive tasks.

HR compared favourably with other sectors in the flexible working rankings illustrated below. But of the HR professionals interviewed, none works from home more than once per month even though one third stated they could do some of their work from home and a further third felt they could do most of their work remotely.

This highlights a considerable disconnect between working policy and practice, suggesting that something is holding staff back from working from home. Access to necessary technology and company documents were the top reasons cited in the survey.

Over 80% of employees felt they would be productive when working from home or remotely because they would be less distracted by meeting interruptions, allowing them to spend more time on particular projects.

One quarter (24%) of employees interviewed stated that they found themselves working from home more this year than they did last year and the survey shows if this trend were extrapolated, then in less than five years we could see 100% of employees of office based SMEs in the UK working from home at least part of the time

The survey also revealed that one third (33%) of employees said they could do all or most of their job from home.  

The report from oneDrum.com, warns HR teams more flexible and remote working needs to be encouraged in order to foster employee productivity, creativity and innovation - key contributions to any business's competitive advantage. 

Jasper Westaway, founder and CEO of oneDrum, said: "HR professionals need to iron out the disconnect and focus on streamlining processes to work staff smarter, not harder. By offering a truly flexible way of working, and leading by example, HR teams will be able to contribute to their organisation's competitive advantage.

"Working from home can enable staff to work more productively and efficiently, leaving room for employee creativity and strategic thinking - all essential catalysts for innovation. Where there is strength in strategy and innovation, there is healthy competitive advantage and a more motivated workforce."

Phil Flaxton, chief executive at Work Wise UK, added: "HR professionals looking to get the most from their workforce need to consider smarter and more flexible ways of working. There are a number of technologies that support a productive home-working environment, the benefits of which result in a more motivated and productive work force, with a healthier work-life balance."