• Remote working has increased by more than a third (37%) in the last three years
  • 60% of HR directors believe giving employees greater autonomy over working practices, such as offering flexi-time, results in an increase in productivity
  • Employers in London are dramatically increasing opportunities for remote working, with 50% of firms expanding these opportunities in the last three years. 

London, 15 April 2015 – New research1 from Robert Half UK reveals opportunities for flexible working are increasing dramatically in UK firms.  In the last three years the prevalence of remote working has increased by over a third (37%) amongst UK companies. 

Concerns that remote working without direct physical supervision leads to a decrease in productivity appear to be increasingly unfounded.  The research reveals that 60% of HR directors, rising to 65% in the public sector, believe giving employees greater autonomy over working styles and practices including remote working and flexi-time results in a growth in productivity.

HR directors increasingly believe that offering greater autonomy to employees, such as flexible working, results in positive business benefits.  Of the HR directors surveyed by Robert Half UK over half (51%) thought greater employee autonomy would boost creativity and almost half (45%) believe it makes employees easier to manage.           

The findings reveal that public sector employers are leading the remote working revolution.  Amongst public sector employers in the UK the prevalence of remote working has increased by almost half (47%) in the last three years.  The trend is replicated in the private sector, though the rate of progress is slower with a third of companies increasing remote working opportunities in the last three years.    

Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half commented: “Just because employees are at their desks in the office doesn’t mean they are always working productively.  Employees can work just as effectively remotely, especially now that advancements in technology have enabled us to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions in the office. With UK businesses facing a skills shortage, companies need to consider offering a positive working environment that supports the needs of a modern workforce in order to attract and retain top talent.”

“Before implementing a flexible working initiative, companies should ensure they have a proper structure in place so that benefits for employees are balanced with business needs.  Firms should also look at how they utilise flexible contracts and staff resourcing to support those who choose to work in a more traditional setting. ”

Regional findings:

The research shows clear regional divisions when it comes to the prevalence of remote working.  Employers in London are dramatically increasing opportunities for remote working, with 50% of firms expanding these opportunities in the last three years.  With the cost of commuting into the Capital increasing each year and many commutes taking a significant time, many employees are lobbying to spend more time working from home.  However, in the North of England and Scotland remote working opportunities have declined over the period.   

200 HR directors were asked about the prevalence of remote working in last three years:              

RegionIncreasedDecreasedStayed the same
London/South East53%23%23%
South West / Wales18%30%50%

Source: Robert Half UK, 2015


Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (2022). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.