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Half of employers not set up for remote working, amid coronavirus fears

Just under half (48%) of UK businesses are not geared up for remote working, with 60% of employers fearing it would be abused.

Robert Walters says with teams more dispersed and covering more time zones, working with others via phone, virtual meetings and video is slowly becoming the norm

Speaking yesterday after an emergency Cobra meeting, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people with a fever or a persistent cough to self-isolate for seven days but research from global recruiter Robert Walters has found a large proportion of employers are not taking ‘reasonable steps’ to prepare staff to work from home.

As well as concerns that employees may abuse the policy, 45% of respondents in its survey stated that it would be difficult to supervise employees and 41% claim remote working makes it difficult to track staff performance and productivity.

However, in a week when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley is encouraging employees to work remotely and workplace software companies like Zoom, Microsoft, and Google are now offering their software for free, Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters, said advances in technology were facilitating remote working.

Hickey added: “The business case for smart working is clear; adopting a digital workplace helps to streamline operations, enhance speed of communication, and drastically improve access to information in a much more effective way.

“Flexible working arrangements are no longer considered just a perk for employees; they are a crucial business strategy to help encourage workforce diversity, attract talent and increase employee satisfaction and productivity.”

However, he added: “What COVID-19 has highlighted to many UK companies is despite companies having ‘all of the gear,’ we are essentially a while away from being able to ‘push the button’ on remote working.

“Work needs to be done to build trust amongst employers and employees, as well as ironing out clear working practices and guidelines for those working remotely. As more Millennials and Gen Z professionals enter our workforce, we can expect the pressure to mount for companies to increase their flexible working practices to be able to accommodate a generation who are more in tune with their wellbeing and health.”

To access Robert Walters white paper on A Smart Work Place for the Workforce of the Future, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.