Nearly a quarter of bosses think the phrase ‘I’m working from home today’ really means ‘I’m taking it easy today’, according to research.
The annual survey by Mitel also revealed that 37 per cent of managers think that if allowed to work from home, staff will use working hours to carry out personal activities – such as taking a longer lunch – while 30 per cent believe employees will use the time to arrange their social life.
But 68 per cent of employees believe that by working from home they would actually take a more flexible approach to work, with 41 per cent saying it would enable them to be more productive, while 28 per cent say they would end up working longer hours.
The research reveals that when it comes to attitudes towards teleworking, 18 per cent of employees would like the opportunity to work from home two days a week, and 55 per cent believe it is an acceptable option for any level.
Psychologist and employee productivity expert David Lewis said: “Managers must understand that every individual has a different style of working, so by allowing your staff to work how they feel best able to achieve results can only benefit their wellbeing and most importantly increase their productivity and ultimately customer service.
“It comes down to a matter of trust. If you trust and respect your employees to get the job done, they will trust and respect you in return and do the best they possibly can, regardless of whether they are in the office or not.
“In fact, many businesses are finding potential recruits demand flexible working as part of their package alongside salary and traditional benefits. Businesses must keep up with, and adapt to, ever evolving working practices if they want to continue recruiting and retaining the cream of the talent pool.”
Reducing overheads, improving customer satisfaction, increasing productivity and staff retention are the core business benefits that stem from teleworking.
However, firms are also starting to recognise that their environmental responsibilities can also be addressed, with teleworking helping to decrease the UK’s ever burgeoning congestion problems and cut carbon emissions.
Graham Bevington, managing director of Mitel, said: “Through the use of virtual teams using instant messaging to communicate, having the ability to set up video and conference calls and share documents from the network, there is no need for employers to panic that people working from home or outside the office cannot contribute to the business as a fully functioning member of the team.
“Flexible working practices are becoming an integral part of a successful business strategy and can be a critical tool in the fight for a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”