Half of employees feel more productive when working from home, research finds

As hybrid remains the preference for the majority, experts say HR can help managers lead a split workforce

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While one fifth (20 per cent) of employees are burned out at work, half (51 per cent) feel more productive when working from home, a study has found.

Research by RingCentral, based on a survey of 1,002 UK full-time workers aged 21 to 65 conducted between September and October, gathered views on remote, hybrid and full-time office work.

The data also indicated that when it comes to information workers, more than half (59 per cent) recorded increased productivity when working from home, compared to a third (34 per cent) when working in an office.

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As economists predict the UK may face a long recession, compounded by prolonged weakness in productivity, the study urged business leaders to “embrace a hybrid working model” to avoid additional suffering.

Indeed, the research also found that hybrid remains the preference for the majority, as one in five (20 per cent) workers dread working from an office, and fewer than one in 10 (8 per cent) want to be in an office every day.

Carolyn Hobdey, chief people consultant at Brilliant, said HR could “play a role” in supporting managers leading a split workforce by “helping them to facilitate conversations with their team about what’s working and what is not for that team – both individually and collectively”. 

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The data also suggested that flexibility is so important to employees that many would entertain some drastic changes to have it; for example, more than half (58 per cent) would change jobs or industries for hybrid or remote work.

But Gemma Dale, lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, emphasised that “there can’t be one size fits all” as there is no single definition of productivity. “Knowledge work in particular makes it very difficult to assess productivity.

Generally we rely on self-assessment measures, and I caution against blanket approaches or policies,” she said, adding that “wherever possible, including for wellbeing and engagement reasons, the more tailored someone’s working arrangement is to their personal style and preferences, the more effective they will be”.

Dr Daniel Wheatley, reader in business and labour economics at University of Birmingham Business School, said workplace policy and practice “needs to take into consideration local expertise and understanding of occupational characteristics”, and that “job demands, employee needs and any overarching policies need to be designed to be flexible” to maximise opportunities while also delivering “high-performing employees for the organisation”.

He added that line managers should have a “central role in ensuring the delivery of positive outcomes for both employees and the organisation”, and that employee voice was also critical.