By Daniel Hunter

Professionals who are chained to the office desk will soon be the minority, according to a new 4000-strong business poll commissioned by Regus, the global workspace provider. 42% now work remotely for at least half their working week, up from 39% last year.

Employers cite greater productivity, improved staff retention and lower operating costs as the main benefits. Over a third of respondents believe that junior employees become more responsible through remote working, and three in ten think that remote management helps maintain a more professional relationship.

Yet the research suggests that many firms are slow to address the challenges of managing staff at a distance, with half of those polled saying that managers do not trust remote workers to remain focused on work tasks.
Only a quarter of firms have a specific system in place for managers to monitor efficiency in remote teams, and a third of managers use video calls.

“Workforces are becoming ever more ‘distributed’, with staff in multiple locations. It is perfectly possible for remote teams to collaborate effectively, but it does require managers to focus less on control and more on motivation and teamwork," John Spencer, UK CEO of Regus, commented.

“The full benefits of remote working are unlikely to be achieved if employers assume people want to work from home. Most people don’t want work to encroach on their home lives and are more productive in a professional environment, closer to home, such as a local business centre.”

Over the last year Regus has seen a sharp rise in enquiries for co-working space at its 220 centres across the UK, from professionals working remotely and also from employers seeking flexible, part-time workspace to offer their staff.

The diminishing importance of geographical location also makes it easier for UK firms to trade overseas.

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