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Working hard or hardly working? Employees don't trust their colleagues to be productive while working from home

Hybrid working is a boon for wellbeing - but we might have some trust issues to work on.
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Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor on
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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When it comes to remote working, employees say they can be relied upon to get the job done – but don't necessarily say the same about their colleagues.

A report by Cisco on the impact of hybrid working found that workers view themselves as more dependable than their co-workers in being productive while working from home.

In a survey of 1,050 UK employees, 75% of respondents said their manager trusted them to be productive while working remotely, yet a lower proportion (61%) felt their colleagues could be trusted to do the same.

Workers also felt that bosses were more likely to micromanage when they were working remotely or in hybrid arrangements, with 43% of respondents reporting those micromanaging behaviours had increased.

SEE: Remote and hybrid work: 5 tips for making it a success

The finding suggests that building and maintaining trust could be trickier for organizations mulling a move to hybrid working – despite the report highlighting numerous perceived benefits of doing so.

This includes drastically increased feelings of wellbeing, with 79% of respondents saying the ability to work from anywhere had made them happier and 57% claiming their productivity and the quality of their work had improved.

"It is clear that hybrid working is here to stay, and for good reason as employees and businesses alike see tangible benefits across key indicators – from improved overall employee wellbeing to better productivity and work performance," said Jen Scherler-Gormley, head of people and communities, Cisco UK & Ireland.

However, Scherler-Gormley said different working styles and preferences presented challenges to business leaders, who must figure out how to foster an inclusive environment regardless of where people are working from.

Over half of respondents said employees who choose to work remotely all of the time will have challenges engaging with their colleagues (58%) and company (56%), compared to hybrid workers who toggle between remote and in-office work.

"More needs to be done to fully leverage the opportunities of a hybrid work future, particularly in building an inclusive culture, devising employee engagement strategies, and deploying technology infrastructure to bring organisations to the readiness levels of their employees," said Scherler.

SEE: The hybrid work divide: Managers think tech is the answer - but staff disagree

Cisco's report otherwise painted a positive picture of hybrid working, which has garnered considerable enthusiasm amongst employees, and many employers, in recent years.

Almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) said hybrid and remote working had improved various aspects of their emotional, financial, mental, physical, and social wellbeing. Time away from the office has improved work-life balance for 78% of employees, Cisco found, with more flexible work schedules (57%) and reducing or removing commuting ties (63%) cited as major contributors to these improvements.

Approximately half (45%) of workers surveyed said hybrid working had helped decrease their stress levels, 65% said it had improved family relationships and 64% of respondents said working remotely had helped them improve their physical fitness, either through more exercise or better eating habits.

There's a financial motivation behind hybrid working, too: 78% of respondents felt that their financial wellbeing had improved while working remotely, be that through saving on fuel or commuting costs (89%) and spending less on food and entertainment (72%). The average saving has been a little over £130.48 per week, which works out to £6,785 a year – a considerable saving, particularly in the face of skyrocketing inflation and costs of living, which has led some employees to argue that employers should pay them more if they want them to return to the office.

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