A/NZ managers remain wary of teleworking: research

A/NZ managers remain wary of teleworking: research

Trans-Tasman survey finds that work culture remains a barrier to telework adoption

Although 89 per cent of workers are teleworking one or more hours per week, some managers remain wary of the work style.

The Cisco sponsored Trans-Tasman Telework Survey, carried out by the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society and AUT's NZ Work Research Institute, found that the mean number of telework hours is now 13 hours per an average work week.

However, AUT NZ work research institute director, Professor Tim Bentley, concedes that managers remain somewhat sceptical about the benefits of teleworking.

“There is this idea that when we’re working from home, we’re not really working at all,” he said.

“Workers are seen as not productive and doing all manner of things when they are supposed to be working.”

Bentley categorises this mindset as “an unhelpful cultural issue”, and adds that it is one of the main barriers to advancing teleworking.

“The feeling or belief that a manager needs to monitor someone to know they are productive essentially boils down into a trust issue,” he said.

The modern workplace

Bentley sees this conservative manager mindset being “out of spec” with the way work is carried out today, as well as the way it is headed in the future.

“Future generations will want to choose where and when to work that is the most productive for them, so this type of management and lack of trust is a concern,” he said.

When respondents were asked whether managers trust their teleworkers, 64 per cent said their managers do not think they slack off when they telework, while 70 per cent said their manager trusts them to be productive while teleworking.

“Even so, the feeling from the majority of managers was an emphasis on trust in relation to teleworking,” Bentley said.

A positive development Bentley has seen is that managers do not seem to use monitoring of teleworkers - even when available - “as a sign of trust.”

Even so, Bentley admits to a number of managers stilling lacking trust in their teleworkers.

“Many managers have a need to watch their employees working and are fixated on presenteeism, which is not a measure of engagement or productivity,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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