Bosses not convinced flex-work makes employees more productive

But 42 per cent support remote work: Survey
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 03/29/2012

While many employees are seeking flexible work arrangements, not all of their bosses believe they work as efficiently when they work outside the office, according to a survey by Microsoft Canada. Only one-quarter of Canadian bosses feel employees are more productive when working remotely, compared to when in the office.

However, 55 per cent of employees feel they are more productive when working remotely, found the survey of1,249 employees (607) and bosses (642) who are Angus Reid forum panelists and work at an office that allows remote working arrangements.

Nevertheless, 42 per cent of the bosses said they support remote working arrangements for their employees.

"We are seeing more and more that employees are seeking out flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to work outside the office walls — anywhere and anytime, from the airport to the soccer field,” said Mike Kennedy, vice-president and national lead of health strategies and solutions at Aon Hewitt. “As the competition for top talent continues, particularly for the next generation entering the workforce and for the highly skilled experienced talent, employers who aren't keeping up may be left behind."

The top reasons cited by the survey respondents for working remotely include:
•needing to finish work that couldn't be finished at the office (48 per cent)
•having fewer distractions (44 per cent)
•being more productive than in the office (35 per cent)
•having a better balance of work-home priorities (35 per cent).

Bosses' top pet peeves in dealing with remote workers are: the inability to talk face-to-face (49 per cent), lack of focus (26 per cent), lack of accountability (22 per cent) and the belief employees are doing less work (22 per cent).

Bosses also rated themselves higher (62 per cent) than employees (55 per cent) in feeling they are more productive when working remotely.

"To create a flexible workforce begins with leadership teams building a culture of trust and a vision that focuses on individual results rather than how much time they spend at their desk,” said Carolyn Buccongello, vice-president of human resources at Microsoft Canada. “You have to empower your people with self-direction. That's not just common sense, that's business sense.”

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