Flexible working ‘a must’ across Europe

More than a third of workers across Europe would turn down a new job if flexible hours were not on offer, according to a new survey.

flexible working at home
Conducted by US-based video conferencing company Owl Labs, the survey involved 10,000 full-time employees in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

The firm's 'State of Hybrid Work' report concludes that flexible working, which has become such a feature of many employees' lives because of pandemic lockdowns, had become key to retaining workplace talent.

In all, 37% of respondents said they would be prepared to decline a new job unless flexibility was offered, while 69% said they would accept a pay cut to have flexible hours.

Flexible working hours is a must in new job opportunites

Just over a fifth of employees reported they were or would be actively seeking new job opportunities this year, with almost a half saying flexible working hours had become key to happiness at work

Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, said: “As we enter into this next phase of work, it’s clear that employers across Europe need to provide flexibility over when, where and how their teams work to ensure they keep employees engaged.

"Giving individual workers more choice over how they work means managers need to be aware of any biases they have towards employees who spend less time in the office.

"Technology will play an important role in maintaining an immersive and equalised workplace. While the metaverse will take more time and adoption, simple changes to enhance the video conferencing experience will have a significant impact on overall team camaraderie and culture.

“It is also clear from our research that employees are demanding more from their employers when it comes to overall job satisfaction. Offering a robust and flexible set of employee benefits has never been more important to retaining top talent.”

The report says that offering flexibility and employee-first benefits had become essential to counter the ‘Great Resignation’, which has seen about a third of office workers changing jobs over the past two years.

Companies now need to provide the opportunity for flexible working to keep employers happy

Polling, conducted by Vitreous World for the report, found that 36% of employees would stay with their current employers if both flexible working hours and a four-day work week were introduced, while over a quarter would stay if they were given flexibility regarding where they worked.

But the report added: "As businesses grapple with the evolving post-pandemic work landscape, managers must ensure that proximity bias doesn’t compromise employee progression with over half (55%) of employers admitting that they tend to have more trust in full-time office workers than those who work remotely.

"The nine-to-five is all but dead in today’s working world. Almost eight in ten of Europeans feel they are just as, if not, more productive while working remotely compared to working from the office."

The report found some geographical differences: full-time office workers' ideal split in France and the Netherlands would be 1.5 days remote and 3.5 days in the office, whilst in the UK, the Nordics (Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark) and Germany, the ideal split was 1.8 days versus 3.2 days respectively.

More than a quarter of all the workers surveyed - rising to 34 per in the UK - said they would not accept a job offer if they were expected to be in the office full-time, while 18% indicated they would decline a new job if the position were fully remote.
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Read more news and views from David Sapsted in the Spring 2022 issue of Think Global People.

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