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Fewer than a third (32 percent) of UK workers are allowed to work remotely whenever they want, according to research from Capita which explores employee attitudes to remote/flexible working and the challenge employers face meeting their expectations of IT to do so.  ‘The State of IT – The Employee Verdict’ report (registration)  claims that almost three quarters of workers (71 percent) would like the option to work remotely, citing a better work-life balance (60 percent), reducing their transport costs (47 percent), and carbon footprint (35 percent) as their biggest drivers for doing so.

The report goes onto highlight that after salary (86 percent) and holiday entitlement (75 percent), respondents ranked flexible/remote working (61 percent) as most important to their happiness at work ahead of health insurance (21 percent), share options (12 percent), and a company car (10 percent).

After salary and holiday entitlement, people rank flexible working as most important to their happiness

The research also claims that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of employees are currently allowed to work remotely. However, there are distinct variations by sector and gender; more private sector workers (72 percent) are able to work remotely than their public sector counterparts (61 percent), while more women (38 percent) are not allowed to work from home than men (26 percent).

“Today’s workforce is increasingly demanding the ability to work wherever and whenever they want. In the long run, an inability to offer remote, flexible working could leave an organisation watching some of its best employees heading for the exit,” said Joe Hemming, executive officer, Capita IT & Networks. “At a time when employee retention and productivity is front of mind for many organisations, it is imperative that they have the policies in place that encourage rather than hinder flexible working practices.”

Security and productivity

The report claims  that providing a great IT experience is central to ensuring productive remote working, with many workers preferring to use their own personal devices. Yet in the GDPR era, the financial and reputational risks of having unprotected business and customer data on such devices are huge. The research claims that many organisations are still wary of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) with just over half (52 percent) of UK workers saying they have the option to use their own device at work, but only 14 percent stating they are rewarded or encouraged to do so.

Workers believe it’s their employer’s responsibility to ensure IT security when using a different device or working remotely

Nine in ten (92 percent) workers believe it’s their employer’s responsibility to ensure IT security when using a different device or working remotely. However, the research also highlights that IT departments continue to face a balancing act between employee productivity and security – 42 percent of workers state that their company’s security policies make it more difficult to do their job.

 “Employers who decide to implement remote working need to find the right way to roll out and manage the process in practice. Undoubtedly, remote and flexible working poses a multitude of potential security threats – the challenge facing organisations is being able to mitigate the risks while meeting employees’ remote working expectations,” claims Joe Hemming.

“The onus is on organisations to provide an IT experience that is fit for today’s workforce, with the key requisites of flexibility, security and self-service.  Through providing the employees with the right tools to do their job there is a clear opportunity to drive workforce productivity.”

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