Over 13 million UK employees to request permanent flexible working
More than 13 million people across the UK plan to ask their employer for changes to their long-term working arrangements once the current pandemic has subsided, new research from insurer Direct Line Life indicates.
And HR directors expect 70% of the workforce to have some sort of flexible arrangement with their boss, a 45% increase on current levels.
Saving time and money, along with prioritising family and health, are key drivers behind the trend, with almost a third of survey respondents saying they wanted to save money on travelling and associated costs like coffee and lunch, and 28% saying that the pandemic had proven how they can work from home effectively. Almost a quarter of people said it had made them realise they spent too much time commuting, and a similar number said they wanted to spend more time with their children.
Working from home two days a week is the most popular option, while one in 12 people plans to ask their employer if they can work from home permanently, according to the research, which included the views of more than 2,000 adults chosen as a nationally representative sample.
“Going through such a serious event as a pandemic will understandably make some people want to reassess their lives and priorities going forward,” says Chloe Couper, Direct Line Life Insurance business manager.
The research coincides with another survey of 2,000 office workers which found almost two thirds preferred working from home, and six in ten believed they were more productive despite working fewer hours.
That survey by British family business Hammonds Furniture shows many employees had used the opportunity to improve their quality of life; sleeping later, spending more time with family, exercising more, eating healthier, and taking more breaks.
However, a significant percentage of younger people are seemingly missing the camaraderie of the office. One in ten office workers aged 18-24 ‘hate’ working from home, and one in five claims to ‘much prefer working from the office’. In comparison, three in four millennials aged 25-34 ‘much prefer working from home’.
Carl Cross, 34, a HR administrator from Manchester, has been working from home for the first time during lockdown and has been told by his company that this will be continuing full-time until at least 2021.
“At first, I struggled – some of the systems on my computer didn’t work very well on my laptop, and I found it hard to get into a routine. But after my laptop was sorted and I started to get used to my front room as an office, I started to really enjoy working from home,” he says.
“Instead of pre-packaged, processed meal deals, I’m eating freshly cooked meals for dinner. I’ve started exercising more, going for a run in the morning when I would have been on my commute. I get my work done during my working hours, with fewer distractions than in the office, and I’ve found myself with more free time when I’m not working.
“It would be nice to see my colleagues face-to-face for a catch-up, but other than that I feel perfectly happy working from home for the foreseeable future.”
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