Employers retaining traditional views about office culture could “undo the ‘progress made over the last 18 months”, researchers have claimed.
Research by the Work Foundation and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that some business managers retain ‘traditional’ views that could lead to widening inequalities within organisations.
The findings also suggest that women are less comfortable than men at requesting remote work and less likely than men to feel their organisation is inclusive of remote workers. And while more than half of managers have the power to decide which employees can work remotely, only 59 per cent of workers are comfortable about requesting remote working while one in five employees are not happy with their working arrangement.
The researchers suggest the survey’s results uncover outdated attitudes “that could exacerbate existing workplace inequalities”.
“Attitudes surrounding remote or flexible working may be stuck in the pre-pandemic world, rather than really grasping the opportunities a brand-new hybrid working model could present,” said Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation.
“There is a real risk that ‘office culture’ is so ingrained that even organisations that pursue flexible or hybrid arrangements could end up introducing inequalities between those who primarily work on-site and those who work remotely. Doing so would jeopardise the opportunities that hybrid working could bring to so many – particularly parents, carers and disabled workers – who have benefited from increased flexibility since 2020.”
CMI chief executive Ann Francke said the research showed that some managers “need to wake up and smell the coffee. Managers need to take account of the new reality of employees wanting to work in more flexible ways, they need to support it, vocalise their support and ensure that remote workers aren’t disadvantaged, especially given the increased competition for talent employers face”.
“Engaging with employees to understand and then implement best-fit working practices is a prime example of good management. Managers will have happier, more productive, more loyal teams – and a healthier business – as a result.”
The survey took in the views of 964 Chartered Management Institute managers, 1,000 UK workers and interviews with organisations representing women, disabled people and those with parenting or caring responsibilities within the workplace.