Almost three-quarters of employees ‘put in more effort’ when working from home

Organisations urged to keep remote workers ‘in the loop’ to build trust

Close to three-quarters (73 per cent) of workers have revealed that they put more effort in than is required when working from home, according to new research.

The study from Cardiff University, which was reported on by the Daily Mail, found that 39 per cent of people who mostly worked from home often worked additional hours to get through their tasks, or to help out colleagues, compared with less than a quarter (24 per cent) of those in fixed workplaces.

In addition, the research – which was based on approximately 15,000 responses from workers in 2001, 2006 and 2012 – found that the proportion of people who mainly worked in traditional workplaces, such as an office, had decreased from 75 per cent in 2001 to 66 per cent in 2012.

However, two in five (44 per cent) of those who worked remotely also said they struggled to relax and unwind after work, compared with 38 per cent of staff who worked in fixed locations.

“Remote workers are over-compensating to prove to their colleagues that they are not in their pyjamas at home and prove to their employers that they are a safe pair of hands willing to go the extra mile in return for the discretion an employer gives them to work at home or in a remote location,” Professor Alan Felstead, research professor in the University of Cardiff’s school of social sciences, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, added that remote workers might be more inclined to slog away for longer hours because they “feel out of touch with the rest of the organisation, and feel they could be overlooked for promotion opportunities”.

Brinkley urged employers to make sure remote workers “feel part of the loop” by keeping them updated with goings on in the company, using mechanisms such as ‘keeping in touch’ days. “That will help ease the concerns of the worker and organisation and create trust between the two – which these arrangements depend on hugely,” he said.

A separate study, published by the CIPD and Halogen Software in April, found that a third (32 per cent) of staff believed having remote working options meant that they could not switch off in their personal time and nearly a fifth (18 per cent) felt the constant connection to the office was akin to being under surveillance.

Meanwhile, recent research by the London School of Economics revealed that those who worked remotely regularly could end up resenting their employers if they didn’t contribute towards utility bills or stationery costs, while some managers felt these employees were taking advantage of being allowed to work from home.

At the start of the year, France introduced a law that gave workers a legal right to ignore work-related emails outside of their normal working hours. The legislation affects businesses with more than 50 employees and is designed to encourage staff to take a proper break and escape the ‘always on’ culture of the modern workplace.