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Managers unnecessarily wary of allowing staff to work from home

Managers’ suspicion about the practice of allowing staff to work at home is unfounded, research shows.

A 2010 Government report published in Australia found that 24 per cent of Australian businesses allow staff to work from home. However, a report published around the same time by Access Economics analysed the number of staff who actually do work from home and found it was just six per cent of the workforce. The report concluded that while companies were open to the idea of homeworking and its benefits in theory, in practice managers didn’t encourage it or take steps to implement it.

Despite management suspicion, global research by Telework Australia found that one company which allowed its 600 employees to work from home for nine months saved around 5.1 tonnes of carbon emissions. Staff also saved around 84 minutes per day. An American study found those that work from home to be 12.5 per cent more productive, whilst computer firm Hewlett Packard reported that call centre staff who work at home are 20 per cent more productive than office-based workers.

Businesses have reported a positive impact on the bottom line too. New Zealand technology services company Unisys said it saved the equivalent of £5,837 per remote worker in 2008, whilst Australian firm Autoliv reduced staff turnover costs by the equivalent of £2.3 million over a seven-year period thanks to a work from home initiative.

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