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International law firm Trowers & Hamlins has been working with LinkedIn and Schroders to uncover the reality behind agile working during the pandemic. 

The trio embarked on research spanning 35 sectors and over 250 businesses to find out how true agile working is playing out and how people are managing to adapt to new ways of working.

Some of the key findings reflect that employers are seeing higher productivity with people working from home with a panellist reporting that employees are dedicating more of their time to work. In a poll of the attendees, 78% of respondents said that they 'anticipate their staff working from home more often'. 

Emma Burrows, partner and head of employment at Trowers said:

"The statistic that employers intend to make agile working more permanent reflect that the majority, but not all, feel positive about their experience during the pandemic. It's only now that we are seeing the effects of this decision-making on employees, the additional obligations on employers and the effect on the wider economy."

The firm's employment and pensions team has a 'Future of Work' programme and they will continue to explore the unintended consequences of agile working.

Emma Holden – Global Head of HR at Schroders commented:

"We asked our employees ‘how would they like to work in the future’ and ‘what would make them most productive’, over 90% of our employees told us that they want to work flexibly. As an organisation, we are not only looking at where our people work, but also the 'when' and the 'how'. Schroders has designed its agile working policy to fit with individual needs and the needs of our clients, our business and the teams in which our employees work. This is at the heart of our agile working solution. We have always said that the office is important to us and it will continue to be now and in the future. Pre-Covid we used to leave the office to build teams, with our agile working we are now seeing our employees come into the office to build teams!" 

Janine Chamberlin – Senior Director of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn said:

"It’s clear that people want more flexibility when it comes to work. They want to be able to decide for themselves when to work from the office and when to work from home, depending on the type of work that needs to be completed and their work/life commitments. LinkedIn research found that almost half of UK business leaders are considering giving employees greater options around remote working in the future, and two-fifths want to introduce flexible hours to better support working parents and those with dependents. While this will be welcome news to many, businesses need to ensure agile working policies work for everyone. For instance, some workers, particularly younger generations, get a lot of value from being in offices, particularly when it comes to on the job learning and the social benefits of work. Some also prefer the clear work/life boundaries that the office enables, particularly as UK workers say they are clocking up an extra 28 hours a month working from home. Ultimately, we have the opportunity to create a new way of working, and companies that place flexibility at the core of their culture will be the ones that successfully attract and retain the best talent.”

John Turnbull, partner in Trowers' employment team remarked;

"It's encouraging to hear so many organisations committing to long-term change. However, we are seeing a number of unintended consequences as a result of agile working. With employees working remotely in huge numbers using cloud-based software, organisations are experiencing a significant rise in cybercrime and data protection issues. Employers will need to consider whether their contracts of employment and policies are fit for purpose and revisit their data protection controls. Employers are at a different stage in this agile working journey, but if we all approach this in a pragmatic ad balanced way we will be creating organisations fit for the future of work."

A recorded webinar discussion highlighting these key themes and statistics can be found here: