Majority of employees comfortable asking their manager to work remotely, think tank finds

Experts warn firms that fail to engage with hybrid working models could see lower productivity and risk losing staff to more flexible competitors

The majority of workers are happy to speak to their employer about remote and hybrid working, research has found, with experts advising firms to listen to their staff’s needs.

A poll of 1,000 UK workers, conducted by the Work Foundation and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), found that the vast majority (88 per cent) wanted to continue working remotely at least one day a week. 

The research also found that, of the employees whose line managers were responsible for deciding their working arrangement going forward, three in five (59 per cent) said they were comfortable asking their manager to work remotely.

A similar proportion (54 per cent) also indicated that their line manager’s support was the main reason they were comfortable asking for remote working.

Only a fifth (20 per cent) of employees whose line managers were responsible for deciding working arrangements going forward said they were not happy with their working model. 

The research, which also polled 964 managers, found that almost two in five (38 per cent) said they expected to have a hybrid model where individual employees come into the office at least one day a week.

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Similarly, nearly half (46 per cent) said they expected to run a hybrid model, with some staff working remotely all the time and other members of staff working on site all the time. 

Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of managers polled reported that their organisation already had a remote working policy in place, with an additional 6 per cent planning to introduce a policy by December 2021.

Given the increased competition for talent that employers face, Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said managers needed to acknowledge some employees would want to work more flexibly, and ensure that remote workers weren’t disadvantaged. 

She advised firms would see “happier, more productive, more loyal teams” if they engaged with employees to understand and then implement best fit working practices.

Ian Moore, founder of HR consultancy Lodge Court, told People Management he was unsurprised workers were eager to continue with flexible working arrangements after the pandemic. And given the record number of vacancies across the UK, Moore cautioned that employers that failed to embrace flexible working could see their staff move elsewhere. 

“There are good reasons to get people back together, but not if they feel forced [and not] because they used to have to [be in the office],” Moore said, advising that line managers needed to make sure they were being reasonable in requesting workers back into the offices.