A study has revealed that despite the rise of hybrid working preferences, the office still has a valuable role to play, but flexibility around hours is crucial in the modern world of work. That’s according to The future of flexible working, published by global leader in creating bespoke workplaces, Unispace.
In its report – which surveyed 3,000 office workers – Unispace found that hybrid working has almost tripled since the pandemic, with 63% of those surveyed now working in a hybrid way. The report also revealed that over three quarters (77%) said that flexible start times would encourage them back to the workplace, indicating that employees seek not only flexibility in where they work, but also when they work.
Flexibility for all
Flexible working demand is higher among certain demographics, with the report revealing that 86% of those with caring responsibilities desired flexible start times, compared to 71% of those with no caring responsibilities.
When analysed by life stage, the data revealed that 80% of individuals living as part of a couple with dependent children and 76% of single parents wanted flexi-hours. Similarly, those with housemates were most likely to be attracted by flexi-working, with 90% of this group admitting that the freedom to choose their own hours would entice them back to the office. This is compared to 70% of those living alone and 76% of those living with parents.
Sector and area differences
The data also revealed nuances across sectors with 83% of legal professionals stating that flexi-hours would encourage them back to the office. This is indicative of a move away from the sector’s historical culture of long working hours. In the life-sciences and pharmaceuticals arena, which has traditionally kept more regular hours, 71% of respondents said flexible hours would entice them back to the workplace.
Elsewhere, those who worked in urban areas were more likely to covet flexi-hours compared to those working in suburban and rural offices (79% vs. 72% and 70% respectively), suggesting that a busy commute may dissuade individuals from the usual nine-to-five working hours.
Regan Donoghue, Senior Principal, Workplace Strategy at Unispace comments:
“Optimising flexibility is a key challenge organizations are facing, not only when it comes to scheduling, but also ensuring how spaces support the work that is taking place. The days when the majority of staff were happy to work in an office environment Monday to Friday, nine to five, are now over. There is no doubt that hybrid working is the way forward, however there are clearly variations in demand between the many different groups of individuals that make up the workforce. This is why, in my opinion, it is critical for businesses to speak directly to their staff and get to the bottom of their desired set up, rather than just assuming that one size will fit all.
“The workplaces of tomorrow must also be designed to support employees who choose to work in a more dynamic way. For example, by making sure that buildings are accessible earlier in the morning and later into the evening, refreshments and breakrooms are available throughout the day, and that there is sufficient space to accommodate workforces during the busiest working hours so that teams can work collaboratively and productively. Those employers that accommodate for the various groups that currently – and in future – comprise their workforce, will be sure to drive retention, engagement and attraction rates in what is a very competitive labour market globally.”