A new survey from Acas has found that nearly twice as many large organisations saw a change in the amount of time staff spent working from home compared to small and medium-sized employers.
Acas commissioned YouGov to ask British businesses to what extent they saw an increase or decrease in the amount of time staff spent working from home between 2021 and 2022.
The poll revealed that overall 6 in 10 employers (61%) saw a decrease or increase in the time spent homeworking and 28% saw no change.
There were also stark differences depending on the size of the organisation. Around 4 in 5 large employers (79%) that employ 250 or more employees saw a decrease or increase in the time their staff spent working from home, compared to 2 in 5 (45%) small and medium-sized businesses that employed less than 250.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:
"The pandemic sparked a home and hybrid working revolution and many businesses are still navigating what the new normal should be.
"Our poll reveals that employers are taking varied approaches to home and hybrid working with larger firms seeing a greater tendency to flux and change homeworking arrangements compared to small and medium-sized businesses.
"Employees may have personal preferences on whether they want to work from home or on site and there will be practical considerations around whether it is suitable for their specific role. It’s important for businesses of all sizes to work with staff to agree suitable ways of working and regularly review arrangements."
Acas advice is that hybrid working can help businesses attract and retain staff, improve their health and wellbeing as well as increase staff productivity. This is because the flexibility allows them to balance work and personal responsibilities.
Acas advice for employers includes:
- create a policy outlining the business's approach to home and hybrid working – it should explain how someone can request it, how roles will be assessed and how decisions will be made
- if an employee requests to work from home, the employer must fairly consider the request and ensure that its decision-making process is open and transparent
- ensure staff who are working remotely are not excluded and have access to the same opportunities as those in the workplace such as team building activities, training and social activities
- where possible, provide different ways for employees to stay in touch to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation – for example, instant messenger tools, video meetings, as well as emails
- conduct a 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessment of employees' working environment – employers should review risk assessments regularly to make sure their employees' working environments remain safe and healthy
- consider any extra costs employees might have when working from home – discuss who will pay these costs with employees and their representatives
1. Acas commissioned YouGov to poll senior decision makers in a representative sample of British businesses by company size. The survey was carried out online and the total sample size was 1013 senior decision makers excluding sole traders. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 9 and 18 January 2023.
2. Participants were asked "To what extent did you see an increase or decrease in the amount of time staff spent working from home, or was there no change, between 2021 and 2022."
For all participants:
- 32% saw a decrease
- 29% saw an increase
- 28% saw no change
- 1% did not know
- 7% said it was not applicable (remote working is not possible for any of our employees)
- 2% said it was not applicable (all our employees are fully remote)
For the 380 participants from large businesses that employ more than 249 employees:
- 42% saw a decrease
- 37% saw an increase
- 18% saw no change
- 1% did not know
- 2% said it was not applicable (remote working is not possible for any of our employees)
- 1% said it was not applicable (all our employees are fully remote)
For the 633 participant from small and medium sized businesses (SME) that employ 1 to 249 employees:
- 23% saw a decrease
- 21% saw an increase
- 38% saw no change
- 1% did not know
- 12% said it was not applicable (remote working is not possible for any of our employees)
- 4% said it was not applicable (all our employees are fully remote)
3. Acas has advice and resources to help employers and line managers, including: