October 31, 2020

XpertHR survey reveals that homeworking is here to stay

More than half of businesses are planning to increase the amount of permanent homeworking in their organisation, according to research from employment specialists XpertHR.

A survey of 148 HR professionals published today shows that 54.7% of those already using homeworking plan to increase the proportion of time or number of employees working from home on a permanent basis. And 35.1% of organisations that didn’t use homeworking prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic plan to now have at least some permanent homeworking arrangements.

Options for workplaces

Arrangement % of organisations
Increasing the proportion of time/number of employees working from home on a permanent basis (some homeworking prior to COVID) 54.7
Introducing homeworking arrangements for some or all staff on a permanent basis (no homeworking prior to COVID) 35.1
Move towards other flexible working patterns, eg annualised hours, compressed hours 26.4
Strongly encouraging employees to return to COVID-secure workplace 25.7
Workplace relocation 10.8
Outsourcing work to another country 1.4
Outsourcing work to elsewhere in the UK 0.7
Other 9.5
n = 148 organisations.

Source: XpertHR.

 

With effect from 22 September, Government guidance has reverted to a recommendation that employees should work from home if they can. A quarter of our respondents’ workplaces were already open to all employees, with many others open for some, although with limited plans to move everyone back to their premises. Asked how they would describe the current situation at their organisation’s premises, it is clear that the majority of businesses had at least some employees attending in person – just one in 20 had no current plans to reopen.

As a result of the reversal in Government guidance from returning to the workplace to working from home if possible, many organisations are having to quickly re-think their plans on employees returning to the workplace. A charity has just done a U-turn on its plans to reopen, while a training provider is currently deciding whether to close the offices they had only recently re-opened. A logistics company had been in the midst of making “plans to encourage employees back to work in stages”, which are now on hold.

What is clear is that employers are taking the lead from employees – one in four (24.1%) survey respondents said that any return to the workplace would be based on employee choice. Where specified, organisations are not looking to have employees return to the workplace before the New Year, although one thought it would “most likely [be] next March [2021]” and another that there would be “no formal return until June 2021”.

Where employers are introducing more flexibility on work location, the following practices mentioned offer useful guidance to others:

  • “Carrying out a risk assessment on staff working from home.”
  • “Seeking feedback from all staff via a survey on how much time they wish to home-work in future.”
  • “Plans communicated to staff following engagement activities to assess wider workforce opinions.”
  • “The future mix of office/home working will be trialled.”
  • “We have an internal project group focused on future ways of working to review what will work for all employees.”
  • “We have engaged an external consultant to support us on the implications of implementation of agile working.”
  • “Working through the policies and changes needed to allow more flexibility and working from home.”

Commenting on the findings, XpertHR managing editor Sheila Attwood said:

“The flexibility around working hours and location that became a necessity almost overnight is not going to disappear with the same speed at which it arrived. Many employers are now looking to retain some semblance of these arrangements on a more permanent basis. Any new working arrangements should be carefully planned, with the needs of both the business and employees in mind.”

 

For more information on XpertHR visit: www.xperthr.co.uk