Staff seek greater flexibility as they get older

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Employees increasingly look for a job that is tailored to their lives, rather than having to adapt their lives to their work, a report has claimed.

Research commissioned by law firm Taylor Wessing, which looked at what workers from different generations across the UK wanted from the workplace, found a significant “generational shift” in employee preferences.

Both employers and office space developers needed to take note of how employees’ preferences change as they get older, its Work in Progress report suggests. For example 35% of 30-45 year olds want the ability to work remotely, compared with 23% of employees in their 20s – many of whom favour the ability to socialise at work.

Three-quarters (74%) of staff of all ages say the length of their commute is an important factor in deciding whether they should consider a remote working role, while 48% of UK workers say the ability to work flexible hours is important to them.

The report says allowing an element of flexible and home working is an “easy win” for employers, so long as they have the appropriate infrastructure to make this viable.

The prevalence of remote working and other flexible working policies has led to a reduction in the need for fixed offices and desks, it notes. Communal spaces within office complexes were also rising in popularity.

Sean Nesbitt, international practice area leader for employment at Taylor Wessing, said: “Employers must embrace this need for flexibility and choice if they want to compete by attracting and retaining the best people.

“Some businesses may balk at enabling a multi-choice, elective-presence environment, opting instead for a more transactional relationship with their workforce and accepting a higher churn. Many though, especially those that need a relatively calm pool of high skills, won’t have that choice, and will instead continue to develop and embellish their ‘work offering’ with technology and policies that appeal to today’s and tomorrow’s workers.”

The report also finds that:

  • Four in 10 (44%) UK workers say that having up-to-date hardware and software is important to them, rising to 57% among 26-30 year olds
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of employees rate their employer poorly for up-to-date software and hardware provision
  • 21-25 year olds are most likely to favour working in a city centre (36%). This falls to 9% among 46-50 year olds
  • Access to gyms is important to 10% of people, particularly 26-30 year olds (18%)
  • Thirty per cent of employees rate access to green space near their place of work as important.

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