Flexibility the answer to 'quiet quitting'

The crucial importance of flexible working to UK employees in the post-pandemic era has been reinforced by a survey by global collaborative tech company, Owl Labs.

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The firm's annual State of Hybrid Work report - based on a study of employees at small and mid-sized businesses - found that an unprecedented 69 per cent of workers would be willing to take a pay cut in return for a four-day working week.

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Stay or go? Flexible working key

Additionally, a third said they would decline an offer of a new job if it did not offer flexible working, while 38 per cent regarded flexible hours as the most important factor when considering whether to remain in their current roles."With ‘quiet quitting’ on the rise, and growing calls for inflation-matching pay rises, offering greater flexibility will prove key to preventing employees from leaving their current roles," said Owl.The report said that the autonomy employees had experienced during the pandemic had "firmly cemented" remote and flexible working as a prerequisite for the vast bulk of employees.Almost a third of respondents said they were worried that, as time went by, they would be required to return to their offices full-time. Flexible working hours was regarded the most appealing benefit of a new job offer by 40 per cent, with almost as many favouring a four-day week.

Progression and flexible working

But the survey found that although employees were seeking more flexible and hybrid modes of working, "they are still concerned that this will impact their long-term progression and prospects".The pressure to perform effectively was felt by 53 per cent, who voiced concerns that working remotely would result in their having less of a say at work and could adversely affect their opportunities of career advancement.Some 60 per cent of employees at small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) believed their bosses tended to trust full-time office workers more than hybrid or fully remote workers.As a result, the report said that businesses would need to implement robust bias training programmes for employers to maintain the balance between flexibility and career development.Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, said: “Levelling up video conferencing tools can be a strong first step to fostering positive workplace experiences, and with the cost of living crisis firmly cemented in everyone’s minds, it is critical for SMB employers to consider the needs of employees most affected by rising costs."Starting with increased benefits, leadership must be open to new immersive tech and bias training to successfully integrate employees working remotely.”

Opportunities to progress

Mr Weishaupt added that it was no surprise that the phenomenon of 'quiet quitting' had followed the 'Great Resignation', with its emergence indicating a demotivated workforce."Employers must foster a physiologically safe work environment where remote employees feel a forward sense of progression beyond career development opportunities," he said."SMB employees need to feel like they are gaining new skills and have greater control over their jobs whilst being acknowledged and valued for their work.”

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