Two years into the pandemic, the majority of employed people in the UK (58%) say their job is the main source of their mental health challenges. While flexible work is often cited as an antidote to burnout, not everyone agrees on what ‘flexible work’ means. New research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM) shows that more employees in the UK would prioritize the ability to choose which hours of the day they work (55%) and what days of the week they work (22%) over the ability to work remotely from any location (14%).
With the move to remote work during the pandemic, 69% of workers say the lines between work and life have become increasingly blurred. Even more than the ability to work at home in their pyjamas or on a beach, what employees really want is flexibility around when they work. They’re ready to move past a strict 9-to-5 schedule and mold work to fit their needs, like doing laundry between meetings, going to doctors’ appointments or taking care of kids.
The vast majority (79%) of employed people want to be in control of their schedules and have their performance measured purely by results. Over four in five workers (83%) said a four day work week would improve their mental health, with 88% saying paid mental health days would make them feel more loyal to their employer.
“Flexibility has become a buzzword as employees have embraced new styles of working during the pandemic. But it’s important to look deeper at what flexibility really means,“ said head of employee experience advisory services at Qualtrics, Benjamin Granger, Ph.D. “As work and home life have become increasingly connected — and employees continue juggling childcare responsibilities and caretaking needs for themselves and sick family members — they’re asking for flexible schedules that fit better with the demands of their lives.”
But changing policies is not enough, workplace culture has to support the success of a flexible workplace, according to Granger. Fifty-five percent say they think their career advancement or pay will suffer if they take advantage of flexible policies at work. There’s also a need for boundaries. Many remote employees say they start their days earlier (16%), take fewer sick days (13%) and are working more overall (14%). Fifty-three percent say there is a downside to too much flexibility and they would prefer having some amount of structure to their work day.
More key takeaways from the study:
- 24% say more flexibility over their hours and schedule would influence them to stay at a company longer
- Only 4% say they already have a job where their performance is measured purely by results and the hours and days they work are not tracked
- The top reasons people support being in control of their schedules are: 1) it would increase efficiency 2) it would help them focus 3) it would bring more attention to their contributions and achievements
- 25% of employees are fully remote
- 27% of remote workers have worked from the sofa, 19% from a bed, 12% from a different city, 7% from a car. Some have worked from a beach and whilst camping.
- 30% would be willing to take a 5% pay cut or more in order to work remotely long-term
- 40% of tech workers would be willing to take a pay cut, compared to 20% of government workers and 20% of travel, hospitality and food workers
This study was fielded between Jan. 19 and Feb. 1, 2022. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the UK, are at least 18 years of age and are employed full-time. The total number of respondents was 1,032. Respondents who did not pass quality standards were removed.
Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.