New polls confirm desire for flexible working as 9 to 5 declines

Photo: Shutterstock

Only 6% of employees are working the traditional hours of 9 to 5 according to a new poll carried out by YouGov – findings supported by a Sage Business Cloud study − while just 14% of employees would opt for those hours.

The survey, commissioned by McDonald’s, asked more than 4,000 adults for their views on working hours and found that most full-time workers preferred to start earlier and leave earlier: 8am to 4pm were the most popular hours for 37% of respondents while 21% chose 7am to 3pm.

Just under four in 10 respondents (42%) were already working according to shift patterns, compressed hours and job shares and many of these people told researchers that they felt more motivated than when in fixed-time work and being able to work flexible hours led them to stay in the job longer.

The desire to work more flexibly in future was expressed by 70% of respondents, with 65% adding it would improve their wellbeing and satisfaction at work. However, a third of people said they didn’t think their employer would allow them to work more flexibly.

Just under half (48%) said they would prefer to work a longer day in return for a shorter working week.

Among other findings it was found that a sociable workplace ties with pay as top criteria for “good jobs” among almost two-thirds of all adults (63%), closely followed by flexibility to work the hours and patterns that suit (61%) and a convenient location (60%).

The new poll broadly supports findings from a similar study conducted by YouGov last year.

Paul Burrin, vice-president of Sage Business Cloud People reinforced the report’s findings and urged companies to become more agile.

He said: “The 9-5 day as we know it doesn’t work anymore. Our research also echoes the YouGov findings out today; 81% of employees we polled placed importance on flexible working. They want autonomy to work in the way that works best for them. As a result, they’re more empowered, and more productive in the work that they do.

“If companies want to attract and keep the best, then they must adapt. The global skills shortage means it’s a job seeker’s market, and top talent are demanding more from their employer. People-orientated companies know this and put their employees’ needs before unnecessary processes and traditional ways of working, reaping the rewards in engagement and productivity.”

CEO of the CIPD Peter Cheese, who is also co-chair of the government’s flexible working task force, said the survey shed “a strong light on how people increasingly think differently about work, and how work itself is changing”.

He acknowledged that uptake of flexible working was still low and most jobs were not advertised as being open to different working arrangements. He said: “While government has a role to play in driving change across the labour market, employers also need to take charge, putting flexible working options in place and improving behaviours and attitudes towards flexible working to create a win-win for individuals and organisations.”

McDonald’s said it would work with flexible working campaigner Anna Whitehouse (known on Instagram as Mother Pukka) to provide advice at events in the companies’ restaurants from 19 September as well as Working Mums and Youth Employment UK. Whitehouse said: “Flexible working is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s a fundamental shift that has to happen to the fabric of the working world. We see it as a two-way relationship, businesses trusting their employees and employees taking responsibility to get the job done.”

Every employee has the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks’ employment and employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request.

2 Responses to New polls confirm desire for flexible working as 9 to 5 declines

  1. Avatar
    Brian Marsh 23 Aug 2018 at 11:45 am #

    So, someone please tell me how this will work in manufacturing whereby if a machine does not run 24hrs a day (and needs to be manned) no-one gets paid? This is Ok for office jobs that work off a computer but not workable for the people who actually make things.

    Yes, almost everyone would like to work the hours that suit them but please acknowledge there are many, many people who do not have this option.

    • Avatar
      Joshua 11 Sep 2018 at 1:33 pm #

      Seeing as no-one is actually working 24hrs a day: they get by by providing enough flexible options to allow the maximum amount of people to work for them on their terms. People want to squeeze their hours in to a smaller window in the week? Cool, that works nicely with the people who can only work certain days. Some people want to start late and work late? Seeing as there’s likely to be people who would prefer to start early and finish early then that works out fine. And seeing as there are currently workers who can’t make your rigid schedule work, you’ve actually got a wider pool to talent to draw on.

      If the issue is, basically, how do you keep forcing people to work unsociable hours when all their colleagues get flex… incentivise. Overtime. Like we used to do in the old days.

      It’s totally true that many people don’t have this option and that is a real issue. But how many of those people *could* have that option if businesses were prepared to meet half way on flexibility? And if you think that manufacturing is going to struggle to adopt this solution then you’re right but focusing on the wrong problem. Within ten years none of these machines will be manned. The people who “make” things will be out of a job. You’d think we’d have learned from the last 60-odd years of that exact thing happening but it seems for certain groups we’re content with just whinging and sitting on our hands and waiting for them to be unemployed.

Leave a Reply