Remote working hours need to be monitored

UK employees are happier working from home, but the hours they work need to be better monitored by senior leaders, according to new research from the CIPD.

The report found that though 65% of employees agreed that their organisation has provided them with everything they need to work effectively from home, nearly one in three (30%) said that they had increased their working hours since working from home.

More than half (53%) added that they now feel that they have to be available at all times, and in order to demonstrate their value in the remote environment, nearly half (48%) said they felt the need to communicate more than they did when working onsite.

Driving up longer hours for 36% of respondents was the feeling that when at home it is harder for them to make a valuable impact at work.

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Ben Willmott, head of public policy, CIPD, urged employers to remember that the current circumstances are not the same as homeworking pre-pandemic as the situation has been enforced.

He said: “Many people have been dealing with a range of additional pressures and anxieties.

“It is crucial that line managers ensure people are not over-working and provide flexibility and support to anyone struggling with any aspect of working from home.”

Willmott said that leadership has a responsibility to ensure employees are not overworking when not in the office.

“Senior leaders need to role model the behaviours they expect of others and businesses focus more on equipping managers with the people management skills they need to manage and support home and remote workers.

“Employers also need to do more to provide more flexible working opportunities to people whose jobs mean they can’t work from home through greater use of practices such as flexi-time, job sharing and compressed and annualised hours,” he said.

The CIPD recommended four areas of focus for UK organisations and people professionals to combat overworking.

It said leaders should support hybrid workers through good people management and ensure fairness of opportunity by providing ongoing access to development and career conversations.

It also asked employers to put health and wellbeing front and centre by reminding employees about the importance of maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing, taking regular breaks, and getting fresh air and exercise.

The final recommendation advised employers to offer broader flexible working options, such as job shares, compressed hours, and flexible start and finish times.

The Work Smarter to Live Better report surveyed over 4,000 UK office workers online via a YouGov survey between 27 October and 5 November 2020, in addition to in-depth interviews with senior business leaders from across the UK.

It was conducted by a the CIPD and Microsoft Surface.