Is home working all it’s cracked up to be?

Flexible working is often perceived as a benefit to employers and employees alike. But is it really such a good idea?

By Ernest Richardson

Since the late 1990s there has been a clear trend throughout Europe and the US towards flexible working.

    Staff with freedom to work remotely tend to be more productive and are more likely to stick with their job.  

The common wisdom is that if you give employees flexibility about when and where they work, you empower them to make smarter use of their time, to go with the flow and deliver more for your business.

That has been the thinking behind the government’s drive to promote flexible working throughout the UK. In 2018, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) set up a taskforce to encourage flexible working among employers. The initiative was supported by high-profile organisations such as the CIPD, CBI and TUC.

From an employer’s perspective, the benefits of flexible working are clear. Staff with freedom to work remotely tend to be more productive and are more likely to stick with their job. They are also more likely to work additional hours in order to complete a task.

For employees, the positive feeling appears to be mutual. A survey by Investors in People found that almost a third of people would value flexible working above a pay rise in terms of employee benefits.

The reasons for their enthusiasm are obvious: if you work from home you miss the commute, have flexibility about when and where you work, and can fit working commitments around other activities such as sport, childcare or socialising.

And, of course, you have the distinct advantage of being able to spend the day in your pyjamas. Unless you have a video conference call, obvs.

But further research collated by Investors in People casts a shadow of doubt over the advantages to employees of flexible working.

For example, a survey by Orange Business Services as long ago as 2007 found that 40 per cent of homeworkers didn’t feel as if they had more time by virtue of their working pattern. What is more, 45 per cent felt they were working more hours for less, because their working lives eat into evenings and weekends.

Another insight comes from an international study of flexible workers, which found that 41 per cent considered themselves “highly stressed”. When compared to the 25 per cent of on-site employees feeling comparable stress levels, it suggests the freedom of working remotely may not be such a boon, after all.

“The main issue with remote working is whether or not it’s sustainable for the job you do,” says Peter Foy, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd. “In our industry, for example, it wouldn’t really be possible to let employees work from home. So much of what we do involves face-to-face meetings, and working in an office where you have access to databases and colleagues’ intelligence and creativity.

    “The main issue with remote working is whether or not it’s sustainable for the job you do,” ...  

“In fact,” he continues, “I think it could be quite isolating to work in our sector without coming to an office.”

This mention of isolation is pertinent. For many home-workers, the biggest challenge is overcoming feelings of loneliness. As irritating as the daily commute can be, it may be a price worth paying for the sake of interacting with colleagues during the working day.

“There is certainly a sense in which chatting to colleagues makes you better able to do your job,” says Mr Foy. “While it may reduce productivity in the sense of outputs, I think it can enhance an organisation’s culture in other ways.

“For example, I find conversations with my co-workers stimulating and wide-ranging. They add value to my working efforts and spark ideas. It may mean I get less done, but at a deeper level, I think it makes me better at my job.”

This may explain why many people – especially men – regard flexible working as career-limiting, as research published in the Harvard Business Review in 2013 makes plain. Ambitious employees tend to resist flexible working when it has an impact on face time with colleagues, through fear that it will impair their chances of promotion, or send a signal about a lack of hunger to progress.

The report states that large US companies including Yahoo, Bank of America and Best Buy have scaled back their remote-working offer, believing that the costs outweigh the benefits.

“It is certainly a mixed picture,” concludes Mr Foy. “There will clearly be some industries, some companies, and some employees for whom remote and flexible working patterns make all kinds of sense. But it’s important not to accept its benefits uncritically. For many, the discipline of a daily trip to the office may be just what they need to succeed.”

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 22 November 2019

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: What are catalytic mechanisms?

You may also enjoy: We need a better politics, and it needs to happen in person

Jobs currently available

New job
Designer
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £28,000 per annum
Location: Kelvedon
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909686
About the role

Are you an experienced Designer looking for your next opportunity?

Are you proficient on a MAC?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Designer on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Kelvedon.

Your duties will include:

  • Producing good, eye-catching design concepts
  • Striving for creative output that is to the highest standards in execution and application
  • Upholding best practice ideas and aiming to consistently deliver the best design output
  • Good problem-solving and contribution towards concept idea generation
  • Proficient Mac operating and creative software skills
  • Strong design and visualisation ability
  • Contributing to creative team development with inspiration, insight and design trends found in the wider creative industry
  • Good communication skills and able to articulate work and ideas to the Creative and Client Services teams
  • Supporting the delivery of pitches and presentations
  • Well-rounded contribution to all design projects

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.30.

If you are interested then apply today!

Read more
New job
Small Plant Engineer / Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £20,000 - £26,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909734
About the role

Just Recruitment is seeking a Small Plant Maintenance Engineer to join a company on the outskirts of Halstead, Essex.

  • Due to the company’s location, you must be able to drive to be considered for this position.
  • Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am-4.30pm - Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.
  • Working as part of a maintenance team, primarily in the workshop, to ensure all site equipment (handheld and small tools) remain serviceable, safe and functioning correctly. (Knowledge and experience of two-stroke engines will be a distinct advantage as would welding/fabricating experience.)
  • Assisting with preventative and reactive maintenance when required on all machinery and production-related equipment.
  • Carrying out other tasks and duties as reasonably directed by your Foreman and Line Manager.

Key skills and experience required:

  • Experienced mechanic with a good all-round knowledge of mechanical and electrical principles.

The company will consider a graduate/college leaver with a genuine interest in Mechanics / Engineering, as they can offer in-house training and guidance.

A competitive salary is on offer with a wide range of additional benefits.

Performance-based yearly bonus scheme, with 50% paid in December and 50% in March.

23 days paid holiday plus the statutory Bank holidays.

Health insurance policy that contributes towards dentist/optician costs, physiotherapy etc. Recently-refurbished canteen serving subsidised healthy meals produced by our experienced chef.

Working Monday to Friday, 7.30am–4.30pm – Must be flexible to work shifts to assist with holiday cover/absence when needed.

Read more
New job
Mechanical, Electrical & Trim (MET) Technician
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909711
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an experienced Mechanical, Electrical and Trim (MET) Technician on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Sudbury.

You will be keen to get involved with all aspects of the Bodyshop.

Duties:

  • To strip and fit damaged panels, interior trim and mechanical/electrical parts
  • To perform all work assigned in a timely manner, economically and to company and manufacturers standards
  • Assess faults
  • Job cards and assessment reports
  • Accessing and removing mechanical and electrical components
  • Removing and fitting non-structural body panels
  • Removing and re-installing mechanical and electrical systems
  • Vehicle valeting
  • To operate equipment and carry out all duties in a safe manner
  • To maintain equipment, protective clothing and work areas in a clean, tidy and safe condition
  • To maintain a high level of competence for the work to be undertaken by undergoing on-site training, attending courses at suppliers and manufacturers and reading technical bulletins as required

Qualifications:

  • ATA or NVQ is essential

Personal qualities:

  • Reliable friendly and willing to continue gaining training to keep up with the latest technology
Read more
New job
Semi-Experienced Estimator
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909869
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Semi-Experienced Estimator on behalf of a company based in Earls Colne, Essex.

Your main responsibilities:

  • To contact the clients, architects and engineers either by phone or email to obtain accurate information about their precast concrete flooring and/or stair requirement.
  • To produce accurate quotations that reflect the clients’ requirements.
  • To liaise with colleagues within the Sales and Estimating department regarding the project in order to increase the likelihood of securing the project.

Candidate requirements:

  • 1-2 years of experience within an Estimator position essential.
  • A good understanding of the Construction industry.
  • Additional knowledge of software such as Bluebeam and CAD software such as Autodesk is desirable although full training can be provided if necessary.
  • Outstanding time management skills with the ability to prioritise accordingly.
  • A confident and professional telephone manner is essential.

Working Monday - Friday, 40 hour week.

Free parking is available.

23 days annual leave plus bank holidays.

Read more
New job
HR Administrator - FTC
Sector: Recruitment and HR
Salary: £20,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 909861
About the role

Are you an experienced HR Administrator looking for your next role?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for an HR Administrator to join a company on a part-time basis (20-25 hours per week) to cover maternity.

Your duties will include:

  • Assist with the recruitment process, including advertising job vacancies and arranging candidate interviews.
  • Draft and send offer letters and contracts (new starter induction packs).
  • Provide the first point of contact and excellent customer service.
  • Resolve absence, holiday queries and first level benefits queries.
  • Process leaver information ensuring all relevant information is prepared, processed and issued on time.
  • Assist/distribute company announcements and ensure communication across the group.
  • Manage department e-mail inbox.
  • Assist with payroll queries.
  • Maintain and establish accurate e-filing and storage systems in line with GDPR legislation.
  • Respond to specific requests for information from internal and external clients at all levels.
  • Managing employee data such as maintain the staff database to include the input of new starters, leavers, holidays and sickness records, probation reviews.
  • Managing internal employee recognition scheme.
  • Attend and participate in the Staff and Works Committee meetings.
  • Organise employee training.
  • Maintain Temporary worker onboarding process.
  • Review company Suggestion Boxes.
  • Maintain organisational charts.
  • Assist the HR Manager with other duties in line with candidate’s skills and experience.

You will have experience in working with confidential information and in an HR environment, as well as have good analytical skills.

This is a part-time, contract position working 20-25 hours per week.

Interested? Apply today!

Read more