Uncertainty around how businesses should support staff with digital connectivity issues could undermine the UK’s shift to hybrid working, according to new research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and CityFibre.
The CMI/CityFibre polling of over 1,000 managers shows a significant appetite for long term flexible working arrangements, including at least some periods of home working. Some 85 per cent of managers confirmed that they expect many of their staff to spend at least some time working remotely in September.
However, it revealed that over half of employers (58 per cent) still haven’t given their workers any help with internet connection at home, and managers are split on whether they should be responsible for helping their employees.
Half of the managers polled said employees should be responsible for ‘fit for work’ connectivity at home, whilst 42 per cent said the responsibility should be on employers.
Yet over half of the managers (51%) polled said that staff had experienced problems resulting directly from unreliable broadband connections during periods of lockdown, with employees left unable to use video calls and being forced to drop out of important meetings.
The research suggests that there is no set approach for how managers can best support employees experiencing connectivity issues when working from home.
Even among those organisations where help is offered, the level of support varies hugely – from ‘fix it yourself’ payments to staff, to the supply of additional routers, and the use of mobile phones for ‘hot spotting’.
Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute said: “Poor connectivity could jeopardise this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our working practises for the better. If employees are to reap the benefits of dynamic working practices, then stable and reliable connectivity will be essential for business productivity.”
“Any leader worth their salt knows that supporting employees to work flexibly will encourage diversity and inclusivity across companies. It will enable companies to tap into a wider talent pool from across the UK and empower individuals with more choice and autonomy in their professional lives.”