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Company directors split on the benefits of working from home

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Working from home is here to stay, but companies aren’t convinced it’s improving productivity.

In a survey of 600 companies, the Institute of Directors found that more than 60 percent planned to adopt hybrid work practices even after restrictions were relaxed.

The institute said that 20 percent of companies did not plan to introduce any form of telecommuting, while only 10 percent had fully moved to working from home.

Home work rates have increased since the first shutdown in March last year. Official figures show that 35.9 percent of the workforce did some work at home last year, an annual increase of 9.4 percentage points.

Although the shift to telecommuting will become permanent, business and economists are unclear about its benefits.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, the US investment bank, warned last year that the negative effects of working from home were being felt “more and more” the more time staff spent at home. He said “spontaneous creativity” was suffering and new beginners and younger workers were missing out on learning opportunities.

The Bank of England warned that more home work could affect productivity because it could damage the quality of collaboration and communication between staff.

However, Michael Saunders, an external member of the monetary policy committee that sets the Bank’s rates, said that a persistent increase in work from home “could well support potential production over time.”

The institute said business leaders were divided on whether working from home was more or less productive. He said 40 percent believed their staff were more productive at home, while 37 percent felt their workforce was less productive.

Joe Fitzsimons, senior policy advisor at the institute, said: “Despite the benefits, remote working has not been without its challenges. For business leaders, operating a tight ship has not been easy without manpower in the same physical space.

“This is not helped by unreliable internet connections. Employee morale has been affected by the loss of camaraderie in the office and adjusting to new roles has been difficult for new staff. “

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