Flexible working makes employees feel more trusted, poll finds

Employers ‘stand to gain a lot’ in terms of commitment and loyalty by empowering staff to work in the way they prefer, experts say

Remote working during the pandemic has made employees feel more trusted by their organisations, a poll has found. 

A survey of 2,000 workers, conducted by Kadence, found that since the start of the pandemic 62 per cent reported feeling more trusted to do their job effectively, while nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) felt a greater sense of trust because they were not being micromanaged.

Similarly, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said they felt free to do their work in a time that suits them best. And since this increased sense of trust, half of workers (51 per cent) said they felt more motivated to do a better job.

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for employee relations at the CIPD, said trust was the basis for effective flexible working. “If people are empowered to carry out their work in a place and time that meets their preferences and circumstances, the organisation stands to gain a lot back in terms of employee commitment and loyalty.”

Suff added that the findings of the survey showed the potential flexible working had to boost positive outcomes for both individuals and the organisation.

“If employers are going to be in a position to attract and retain the best talent, they have to appeal to a diverse pool of people at different life stages and with different responsibilities. Offering a range of flexible working options is a key way of achieving that,” she explained.

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Steve Warnham, in-house job expert at Totaljobs, added that increasing trust was particularly important while staff retention was such a concern. ‘‘Trust is such a vital component in the workplace to allow employees to develop their careers, push internal boundaries and display their skills,” he said.

The survey also found that flexibility brought with it a need to manage workers’ work-life balance.

Three-quarters of workers polled reported using online communication tools more, both outside of work as well as during work hours, while nearly a third (31 per cent) said they found that using these tools left them with less desire to socialise after work.

Dan Bladen, chief executive and founder of Kadence, said that as offices start to open back up, employers need to pay attention to the needs of employees “to understand how individuals prefer to work and where they flourish, so they can create a supportive hybrid environment”.

“The pandemic proved that it’s possible for workers to be productive anywhere,” he added. “Now it’s up to businesses to design work around their people, maintaining the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to and enabling them to get the best work done, wherever they choose.”

Mandy Garner, managing editor of Workingmums, added that management style also needed to adapt to remote and hybrid working. 

She said: “Although some managers do still attempt to micromanage flexible workers, that is certainly not best practice and doesn't bring the best results in terms of motivating and, crucially, at a time of skills shortages in so many sectors retaining workers.

“If you have the right management structures in place, with a focus on realistic goals and purpose, and you trust employees and give them more say in how they work, that is a win-win for all.”