Report suggests Kiwis aren’t convinced on flexible workplaces

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A new global survey, which included participants from New Zealand, has suggested that flexibility might not be a positive attribute when it comes to the workplace.

The report, conducted by Regus, surveyed over 20,000 workers from across the globe.

Just a third of Kiwis who took part in the study said that working from home was good for productivity.

Only 12% agreed that working from professional lounges (such as an airline lounge) has a positive effect on productivity, while over 80% of Kiwis said that the distractions and IT security issues of cafés were detrimental to their work. 

HRM spoke to Jason Ennor, managing director of MyHR, about the flexible work practices.

“While some work can be completed anywhere, some cannot – it depends on the type of work and the person,” he said. “Some people are comfortable and productive working remotely, where others are easily distracted and value an office environment to keep them focussed.”

Despite the report’s findings, over 70% of the New Zealanders involved reported that they had seen a noticeable increase in people working remotely.

Ennor added that employers should not regard survey results religiously or base their HR decisions on them.

“Blanket rules based on survey data can be the worst thing for defining policies,” Ennor added. “If HR teams develop policies to restrict flexible working because a survey suggests flexibility is bad for productivity then they’re missing the point. Look at what your business needs and how best to achieve that outcome. An approach that focusses on quality output is a smarter way of operating – define the business needs and focus (without compromise) on delivery of those needs. Where flexibility can be successfully managed it should be part of the workplace – but if it cannot be, don’t apologise for not being able to provide it.”

He also had some advice for those considering offering flexible work to their staff.

“Flexibility means a lot of things,” Ennor told HRM. “With the change in work demands and workplace practice, work time is no longer restricted to nine to five, Monday to Friday. There are expectations on many people to work longer hours and to always be available to respond to business needs, so employers should be willing to reciprocate by balancing employees’ needs.  Drop the blanket rules based on arbitrary or hypothetical scenarios and flexibly respond to the various needs of the business, including its people. This shows a business that is intelligent, in command of its direction and comfortable with its identity – a great place to work and one where great people would like to work.”

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