Older workers want to work remotely
One in three UK workers (35%) would accept a pay cut in exchange for working permanently away from the office, according to new research.
However, it found a big age split, with older workers more likely to favour remote working and greater flexibility.
Younger workers are more enthusiastic about returning to offices, probably because they are more likely to live alone, or feel it is more important to their career prospects to be more visible.
Older workers are often past worrying about promotion and want to slow down.
The survey by jobs firm Reed found that almost a third (32%) of younger workers aged between 18 and 34 want more office-based working compared to less than one in 10 (8%) employees over the age of 45.
Almost one in five workers (19%) said they felt their employer was not flexible enough when it came to working from home, according to the survey of 2,000 UK employees.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in the summer that young people would help their careers by working in the office and that they risked missing out on building skills and work relationships if they worked from home.
Bank of England policy maker Catherine Mann recently warned that women who work from home may suffer in their careers, as online communication cannot replicate the spontaneous office conversations that are important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces.
She pointed to difficulty accessing childcare and COVID-related disruption to schooling as reasons why many women were continuing to work from home, while men returned to the office.
While flexible working is becoming the norm, it is creating tensions in the workplace. Over a quarter (26%) of survey respondents felt that full-time office-based employees should be paid more than those working remotely full-time.
Almost a quarter (23%) even said that staff who were in the office full-time should be prioritised for promotion over those working from home full-time, while over a third (37%) thought that workers in the office should receive more perks than full-time remote workers.
Simon Wingate, managing director of Reed.co.uk, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a variety of businesses across a range of sectors offer different approaches to flexible and remote working.
“Some companies are still hesitant to fully commit to post-pandemic flexible working, while others have embraced it. With so much change still happening, it may take more time for companies to find the right arrangement that works for their business and employees.
“While flexible working can seem like an impossible challenge to get right, the key thing is to ensure employees have a certain level of choice and autonomy over how, when and where they spend their working day — keeping in mind the fact that what works for one group of people won’t necessarily work for another.
“In a competitive labour market, businesses must think creatively and listen carefully to their staff to provide a tailored approach that works on both an individual and collective level. This will help to improve their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.”