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Gloucestershire Business News

Home working pitfalls must be addressed by bosses, says county law firm

As the UK is instructed once more to work from home, new research from law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys suggests homeworking may be bad for our health and flexible working policies inadequate.

The proportion of people who said that they felt home working had a negative effect on their wellbeing increased significantly from just three per cent pre-Covid, to almost one in five (17 per cent) during the first lockdown.

One of the benefits of home working has been the absence of daily commuting, with nearly a fifth (19 per cent) saying that it's what they liked most about working from home during the first lockdown.

However, almost a third (30 per cent) of people surveyed said they worked longer hours from home than they did pre-Covid. At the same time, the percentage of people who felt they were less effective working from home than in the office doubled, to almost one in five (18 per cent).

Based on the research they conducted, lawyers at Harrison Clark Rickerbys (HCR), the Top 100 law firm with an office in Cheltenham, suggest these insights give employers cause to review and refresh their remote working policies.

"Our working landscape has changed forever," said Kristine Scott, partner and head of HCR's Cheltenham office.

"We conducted this research in order to understand what the future looks like for ourselves as an employer and for our clients, before and after Covid-19.The insights have been fascinating."

Clare Day, a partner at HCR who has been closely involved in the research, added: "The rapid roll out of home working in response to Covid-19 has had many positive impacts, but it is not without risk.

"We found that there had been tensions around remote working that existed pre-Covid, which may have a bearing. The research revealed a perception gap between employers and employees when it came to home working. Before it became a lockdown necessity, almost a third (32 per cent) of workers said their bosses didn't allow home working, while in the same survey it was a tiny proportion, just five per cent, of employers who said they didn't endorse home working.

"This suggests there may be some cultural barriers to homeworking in many businesses, as well as some practical policy issues. Now, as we face lockdown again, we would urge employers to take steps to improve their support for home workers."

HCR proposes three actions from employers:

• Review and refresh remote working policies to ensure they are explicit and take account of Covid-related changes in work patterns

• Provide help for managers to support workers remotely, including effective communication and assessing worker wellbeing

• Find new ways of measuring productivity, defining clear goals for employees whether working from the office or home.

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