Flexible workers mistrusted: Toshiba

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Managers aren't keen about allowing flexible working, because of a perception that it's difficult to monitor and supervise employees, according to a study.

Managers aren't keen about allowing flexible working, because of a perception that it's difficult to monitor and supervise employees, according to a study.

The report, commissioned by Toshiba Australia's Information Systems Division, found that more than 50 percent of respondents thought managers were less trusting of flexible workers.

Six hundred managers and employees from around Australia and New Zealand were surveyed for the report Mobility and Mistrust, carried out by research firm Sweeney Research.

The report found that technology wasn't considered to be a significant impediment to flexible work practices, according to a statement from Toshiba.

Eighty percent of respondents' companies that offered staff the option to work flexibly provided the technologies to carry this out, according to the report.

The report listed examples of tools which might be provided by companies, such as company notebook computers, mobile phones, remote email access, and access to a company's network.

Dr James Cowley, who was an adviser on the report, described flexible working as having the potential to "revolutionise" the workplace.

"Flexible working offers up to six times the level of return through the cost savings associated with fewer overheads, parking, technology and recruitment and training costs," Cowley said.

Mark Whittard, general manager at Toshiba's ISD said that the technology was available to support flexible working.

"However, a majority of Australian...businesses are missing out on the direct savings and productivity benefits on offer because they do not understand how to implement the people side of the equation."

Whittard suggested initiatives such as monitoring and rewarding staff based on performance, rather than attendance.

The study also found that 75 percent of managers who responded from non-flexible workplaces said they were unlikely to let employees work flexibly. This was despite 50 percent of employees saying that they would like to work flexibly if they could.

The main obstacle to take up was perceived difficulty in monitoring and supervising employees.

The study defined flexible working as: "the ability for people to work from whatever place offers the greatest suitability and productivity for the employee and their employer".

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