Paranoia is feeding fear of flexible work policies: report

by Stephanie Zillman16 Oct 2012

While the economic advantages of having flexible work options are widely recognised, new research has found a staggering 85% of companies do not have a company-wide work from home policy.

Research compiled by recruitment firm Robert Half found that despite the positive effects of work-from-home options, namely heightened staff morale, a boost in productivity and decreased turnover, Australian companies are not embracing a remote workforce.

The main roadblocks are trust, security of information and access to technology, the research found. “Companies can address these challenges in part by maintaining open channels of communication and being very clear about what is expected of employees and by when. But it is also essential to have the appropriate technologies and policies in place to ensure that employees are able to access company networks without compromising the security of confidential data,” Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half said.

Key statistics from the report included:
 

  • 85% of HR directors* agreed that non-financial benefits, including flexible time, have a positive impact on staff retention
     
  • One in three (30%) of HR decision-makers said they are actively planning to implement a flexible work scheme to improve staff engagement in the next twelve months
     
  • Currently 84% of companies either never let employees work from home at all (16%) or do so only on an individual basis (67%)
     
  • 83% of HR leaders said that they find it more challenging to manage remote workers compared to workers on site and only 58% said that remote working policies were in place

According to Morris, companies are right to have a certain healthy paranoia about remote working, but that paranoia is best addressed through good technology and tight internal policies. “Flexible time and remote work can be powerful motivators and may result in significant morale, retention and productivity improvements. But a flexible work policy needs careful implementation and close supervision to be effective,” he added.

Robert Half offered the following advice to companies for implementing an effective remote working policy:

Set and manage expectations: Employees who choose to work remotely need to understand that the work still needs to be done to an appropriate level of quality and on deadline. Be sure that these expectations are clear and that there are consequences for non-compliance.

Keep channels of communication open: Don’t rely solely on email, schedule regular calls and consider solutions such as web conferencing to give you more “face time” when employees work remotely. Online collaborative work tools can also allow staff, no matter where they are, to contribute to projects. Internal use of social media, properly managed, can also help dispersed teams work effectively.

Implement clear policies: Create a set of policies that outline specifically the conditions and circumstances under which employees are allowed to work remotely. Include regulations on data transfer and security as well as job performance and use of social media tools. Work with your information technology personnel to set up and manage the requisite security protocols.

Manage devices appropriately: As more employees seek to use their own devices for work-related tasks, companies need to have in place policies relating to management and, where necessary, remote deletion of data. Give serious consideration as to whether you want to provide devices to employees or let them use their own.

Monitor data access: Use technology effectively to provide employees with an appropriate level of remote access to corporate networks but be sure that access is tracked and logged. Use encryption and data security methods to monitor usage and prevent misappropriation.

*201 HR directors across a broad range of industries in Australia were surveyed

 

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