By Daniel Hunter

HR directors believe that giving employees greater autonomy over how they work, like remote working, will boost productivity, according to research from Robert Half UK.

The bi-annual survey of more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives showed that 60% of HR directors believe the introduction of more remote working practices will boost staff productivity.

More than half (51%) of respondents said greater employee autonomy would heighten creativity, and 45% said it would make employees easier to manage.

The number of UK organisations that have adopted flexible working has increased by more than a third over the past three years, according to the research. Public sector employers are leading the way, with a 47% increase in remote working.

Businesses in the Midlands saw the greatest rise in worker autonomy, with 55% more employers offering staff flexible working over the same period. And organisations in London and the South East were close behind with an increase of 53%.

Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half, said: “Just because employees are at their desks in the office doesn’t mean they are always working productively. Employees can work just as effectively remotely, especially now that advancements in technology have enabled us to share files, communicate with colleagues and collaborate on projects, without the added burden of a commute or distractions in the office.

“With UK businesses facing a skills shortage, companies need to consider offering a positive working environment that supports the needs of a modern workforce to attract and retain top talent,” he added.

According to a 2014 CIPD report, HR: Getting smart about agile working, 35% of employees said they would like to change their working arrangements, and 43% said they would most like to change the start or finish time of their working day.

“Before implementing a flexible working initiative, companies should ensure they have a proper structure in place so that benefits for employees are balanced with business needs,” said Mr Sheridan.

“Firms should also look at how they use flexible contracts and staff resourcing to support those who choose to work in a more traditional setting,” he added.