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Mistrust of remote workers is holding UK back from flexible working

Trust - or rather the lack of it - is discouraging UK organisations from adopting flexible-working practices. Concern that remote workers aren't putting in as much effort as office-based staff was cited as the biggest stumbling block to flexible working in a recent survey commissioned by Microsoft. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of employees and managers said that they didn't trust their remote-working colleagues to get on with the job.

The findings chime with an earlier pan-European survey which found that UK employees were among the least trusting of remote workers in Europe. Only two in five British workers said they trusted their colleagues to be productive when away from the office, and almost one in five (17 per cent) said they didn't trust them at all. By comparison, in Denmark more than four out of five said they trusted their colleagues and only 1 per cent didn't trust them at all.

Research shows that there's little basis for mistrusting remote workers. More than 70 per cent of employees claim to get more done away from the office than at their desks and almost two in five said they feel more creative when working flexibly, according to the Microsoft survey. Its evidence suggested that some employees overcompensate to counter colleagues' negative perceptions. Nearly half (47 per cent) make themselves noticed by sending more emails and making more phone calls than they usually would, and two in five (39 per cent) work longer hours to prove they're not skiving.

Acas gives detailed advice on The right to request flexible working and also offers training courses on Flexible working that include a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about family-related policies.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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