Companies failing to police home workers

Apr 21 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

One of the biggest attractions of flexible working is that it means workers are no longer chained to their desks.

But if latest research is anything to go by, managers are still suspicious about what their workers are getting up to when they are supposed to be "working from home" or coming in late or early.

The survey, commissioned by IT company Citrix Systems, has found that, while it is commonplace now for people to be allowed to work away from the office, the majority of companies do not have systems in place to monitor what they are doing.

Most of the workers polled did more than five hours work a week away from the office, with some 19 per cent working away from their desk for more than 20 hours a week.

Yet more than eight out of 10 – 85 per cent – said their company made no attempt to monitor work done away from the office, and 62 per cent said their company had no policy on home working.

This left employers in the dangerous position of having to play catch-up when it came to ensuring home working was being done effectively, said Citrix.

It also raises issues of trust and complacency. Trust because part of the "contract" of home working is that your office will treat you like an adult and adjust performance monitoring to look at outcomes rather than face time.

Complacency because if there is no effective monitoring of what home workers are doing it is all too easy for workers to slip into a frame of mind that they will never be caught if they do not pull their weight.

"Without a strategy in place to enable employees to access the information they need when they are not in the office, huge pressure is put on HR teams, and staff are not able to work efficiently," said Lewis Gee, managing director of Citrix UK.

"Most people said they believe flexible working will increase in the next two years, but if British business does not keep up with the flexible working revolution, it is in danger of becoming a confused mess," he added.