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Flexible working and home offices are on the rise

99% of employees would choose to work remotely if flexible working was an option

Keeping employees happy and engaged now requires more than good coffee and regular social events. In order to attract and retain the right talent for your company, you need to consider exactly what people want and how you can meet these expectations – especially as 59% of the global workforce said they were disengaged in January.

So what is it that employees want from employers in 2020? Peakon has sought to answer this with its 2020 Employee Expectations report. Looking at 14 million employee survey comments, Peakon found that flexible working is one of the hottest topics right now, which means that employers need to start taking it seriously.

Working from home

The rise in flexible working

According to the report, the last year has seen an 18% increase in the number of employee survey comments that mention flexible working-related phrases. In fact, 99% of employees would choose to work remotely if that was an option.

More and more employees want ‘working from home (WFH) and ‘flexible work hours’ to be an option, with people in the UK and Germany being the most vocal about the options.

It seems to be the younger workforces driving the call for flexible working, with a 36% increase in flexibility discussions among Generation Z employees and a 34% rise among Millennials.

In terms of sectors, the transportation sector saw a 52% year-on-year increase in comments around flexible working. The consumer sector also saw a big rise with 51% more people wanting some form of flexibility.

In fact, a large proportion of the British workforce has already gone ‘flexi’ with their work hours, according to data from This is Money by Lloyds Bank. The research shows that almost a quarter of working Brits – around eight million people – now work flexibly across different locations.

When you consider the fact that the Office for National Statistics found that 4.2 million people were making the most of flexible working in 2015, it shows that this is a trend employers can’t afford to ignore.

Why are people choosing to work flexibly?

According to This is Money, there are varied reasons why people choose to work flexibly. Saving money on childcare, getting household tasks done and spending more time with family are all popular reasons.

On top of this, 54% say that flexible working means they don’t need to live in a major city, with another seven out of ten people saying flexibility helps to reduce stress. Peakon’s report found that wellbeing-related topics were mentioned 17% more in employee surveys than they were last year, with work-related stress and burnout cases rising.

With burnout being a very real problem for companies – it was added to the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases in 2019 – resulting in an estimated $323.4 billion impact on the global economy each year, anything that helps reduce workplace stress is a benefit.

Ultimately, this means that employers could improve wellbeing, reduce stress and retain staff by introducing flexible working options.

Home office for flexible working

Flexible working is resulting in more home offices

While the idea of flexible working or working from home might conjure up images of people balancing a laptop on their knee while sitting on the sofa with the TV on in the background, this doesn’t seem to be the truth in many cases.

The benefits of flexibility in their work-life means that many people are now factoring in the possibility of flexible working when it comes to looking for a new property.

Two in five workers say that it’s important that potential new properties offer space that’s suitable for working from home, as more people look to create home offices. Almost a third of workers in the UK now use a purpose-created home office for flexible working, making it the most popular solution.

In fact, 72% of those who regularly work from home have customised their space, showing that people are happy to invest in suitable home office furniture in order to make their working environment more suited to their needs.

This also shows companies that their employees are serious about their jobs, even when working from home. After all, putting money into creating a home office means an employee is less likely to be distracted or spend working hours performing non-work-related tasks.

What does this mean for employers and employees?

In order to ensure employee wellbeing and happiness, employers need to look at more than the office environment they are providing.

Although ensuring an office is comfortable, laid out well and features amenities that suit the daily needs of staff is important, these aspects are not the be-all and end-all of employee wellbeing.

Considering options like flexible working – especially if you can encourage the creation of suitable home offices – could ensure employees are happier, able to create a better work/life balance and are more likely to stay working at your company.

If you’re an employee hoping to start working flexibly, ensuring you have the right environment set up in your home could help ensure you are productive, but it could also help convince your employer that flexible working is a viable option. Creating a workspace with office furniture that suits your work needs and your space will help you make the most of any time you spend working remotely.

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