Flexible Work Hampered by Communication Difficulties
22 September 2014 at 10:50 am
Around two thirds, 65 per cent, of respondents to a workplace survey identified difficulties communicating with colleagues as the main disadvantage of working outside central work locations, according to a new study.
Other disadvantages connected with ‘anytime-anywhere’ work are cited as loneliness and isolation, and difficulty with communication technologies.
These findings are contained in a report by the Australian Human Resources Institute on a survey it conducted with 379 members earlier this year.
The report also included the following findings:
Around half the respondents report their organisation has a policy covering flexible work practices.
More than nine out of ten of that sample report that the policies include work health and safety issues in the home (96 per cent) and more than half report policies relating to working hours (55 per cent).
Nearly three quarters of respondents report training in flexible work for employees (74 per cent) is not covered in their organisation and 70 per cent report training is not covered for managers.
Around a fifth of respondents do not expect the NBN will see improvements in computer speed and reliability at home (17 per cent) or at other off-site locations (21 per cent).
The main benefits of flexible work cited by respondents are the capacity to care occasionally for family members, avoiding the distraction of the office to get more work done, and cutting down travel time.
“Flexible working arrangements underpin workplace outcomes that can be completed independently by an employee 'anywhere anytime', compared to interdependent activities with colleagues that are best undertaken at the office,” Chairman of AHRI, Peter Wilson AM said.
“This AHRI study reveals insights about anytime-anywhere work that can assist in the development of good workplace policy and practice. One of those insights is about prioritising appropriate training.
“If organisations want to create sustainable flexible work cultures, the lowly figures in this study around training for managers of employees working off-site, the workers themselves, and their on-site colleagues, are not good enough.
“Flexible work is finally about getting outcomes that boost quality and productivity which in turn contribute to competitiveness. In a fast changing world, the issue needs to be taken seriously and resourced appropriately.”
The study was sponsored by Microsoft. The full report can be viewed here.