Scotland is global leader for hybrid working amongst finance professionals – report

15/05/2024
Susan Love (ACCA)

SCOTLAND is the global leader for hybrid working approaches, with almost three quarters (71%) of finance professionals working this way – compared to 41% on a global scale.

This research, conducted by ACCA, the leading global accountancy body, takes a look at the current state of the UK workplace for finance professionals. It analyses factors such as remuneration, staff retention, employee wellbeing, AI, and diversity and inclusion.

The survey findings highlight emerging complexities in ways of working post-pandemic over the last year. Overall, there has been a slight decline in those working hybrid, and a slight increase in those working full time in the office, across Scotland. Yet the survey reveals mixed views about the impact of hybrid working, with more professionals citing the challenges of team collaboration when working remotely, though most feel they can be more productive working this way.

With the vast majority still stating a preference to work in a hybrid fashion, the report explores how employers can get the balance right between employee preferences and the benefits of in-person collaboration.

While hybrid working remains highly popular in Scotland, the proportion of those working in a hybrid fashion has seen a slight decline since 2023, when 73% reported working in this way. Across the UK, 21% of those surveyed are working full time in the office, while Scotland only has 17% of its financial professionals working in the office full time, the lowest of all the devolved UK nations but still an increase on last year’s figure of 13%.

Of those working full-time in the office in Scotland, just under half (48%) said it was because their employer required it, while a third (33%) cited better productivity when working with colleagues in person. Almost half (47%) overall agreed they found team collaboration harder when working remotely but of the same group, 63% felt they were more productive working remotely, which was lower than the 68% who reported this across the UK as a whole.

However, when asked about their preferred way of working, almost two thirds (65%) of Scottish respondents said their preference was to work hybrid, while Scotland also saw the highest preference for working fully remotely (cited by 27%) across the UK. Only 8% of Scottish professionals said that working full time in the office was their preferred way of working.

The report explores some of the benefits of time spent in the office according to some employers in the study, including organic learning opportunities, purposeful collaboration and networking opportunities, as well as exploring attitudes towards mental health across the

accountancy profession. While 55% of UK respondents reported they had suffered poor mental health due to work pressure, this rose to 59% in Scotland. Conversely, Scottish respondents were more likely to be satisfied with the support from their employer for mental health (50%) than those across the UK as a whole (45%).

Susan Love, Strategic Engagement Lead for Scotland, ACCA UK, said: “Seeing Scotland leading the world again this year when it comes to hybrid work practices demonstrates the flexibility and dedication of Scottish businesses in being adaptable without compromising on output. That almost three quarters of Scottish finance professionals are able to enjoy hybrid working, and that this is a clear preference of Scottish professionals, highlights that this way of working is here to stay.”

Joe Fitzsimons, Senior Manager, Policy & Insights, ACCA UK, and author of the report added: “The survey highlighted some of the challenges facing employers managing hybrid workplaces, such as achieving the benefits of in-person collaboration, while still allowing for the improved work life balance necessary to attract employees in a competitive landscape. Employers will need to navigate through these challenges, as well as tackling persistent problems with supporting the mental health of employees. This is something ACCA will continue to support members and employers through our range of support, advice and learning opportunities.”

Read the report here.

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