One of the historic problems about shedworking and working from home in general has been the reluctance of some managers to believe that it is a viable option. But according to a new study from the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham and the Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance team at the University of Kent, managers have become more positive about their staff working from home since lockdown.
Researchers spoke to more than 700 managers across the UK in a range of industries and at all levels of management for what is the first academic piece of research exploring managerial experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.
Overall, 55% of managers reported over 80% of their employees have been working from home since lockdown. The key finding of the study is that "fewer managers now believe that presenteeism and long working hours are essential to career progression within organisations". Indeed, 56% of managers also reported that working from home increases productivity, concentration, and motivation due to their experiences in lockdown, a rise of 14% compared to pre-lockdown figures.Dr Holly Birkett, Co-Director of the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham said:
“The report shows managers are much more positive about working from home and flexible working, than they were before the pandemic. Managers say their organisations are going to be more supportive of homeworking and flexible working in the future, including more likely to support working from home, job shares and part time working even for Senior roles. This change along with the breakdown of the presenteeism culture and the removal of a flexibility stigma, which existed before COVID -19, could help improve employee wellbeing, help to support people to take on caring roles and break down many of the barriers women face to balancing career and family, with the potential to improve female representation on Boards and close the gender pay gap.”
Dr Heejung Chung, Principal Investigator of the Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance Project at the University of Kent added:" As we have also seen in our previous employee survey, the flexible working genie is out of the bottle - more workers want to work flexibly in the future, and as this report has shown, managers now see how flexible working can benefit companies."
Photo courtesy Warwick Garden Buildings