Flexible working valued at equivalent of £4,000 a year, say workers

attitudes to flexible workingUK office workers would need a £4,000 salary bump to tempt them back to the office full-time. This is according to new research released today by Locatee – a workspace occupancy and analytics provider. Commissioned by YouGov, the Locatee research explores more than 1,000 UK office workers’ attitudes towards remote and flexible working, and the effects on job satisfaction, productivity, and security. 

UK office workers have become accustomed to the conveniences of flexible working, and are loath to wave goodbye to them. Currently, 75 percent of office workers have remote working freedoms, and only 17 percent want to return to the office full-time once restrictions lift.


Key findings:

Office attendance comes at a price 

Workers reluctant to return to full-time office working would need an additional £4,000 per annum to tempt them back. This represents a 12 percent pay rise relative to the average UK salary of £31,260. Londoners on average would require £5,100 extra per year, £1,500 more than those in the Midlands or the North. Women would require an average extra  £3,750, vs £4,140 for men.

Fears about remote working hampering career progression 

Younger workers are particularly worried about the impact of flexible working on their career. Almost half (48 percent) of 18-24 year olds worry that frequent remote working will damage their chances of progression and promotion. This concern decreases amongst older, more established workers, but is still significant. (37 percent of 25-34 year olds, 27 percent of 35-44 year olds, and 28 percent of 45-54 year olds are concerned about remote working on career progression).

Younger workers most keen for return to office 

Younger workers’ concerns over career progression is a likely driver behind their enthusiasm to get back into the office. 42 percent of those aged 18-24 would opt to work from the office most or all days, given the choice. This figure drops to 23 percent amongst 25-34 year olds, and 28 percent amongst 24-44 year olds.

Businesses unlikely to meet remote working demand   

There is a contrast between the appetite for flexible working, and businesses’ willingness to provide it once restrictions lift. 81 percent of workers want to be offered remote working flexibility once restrictions lift. However a quarter (24 percent) will be expected back in the office full-time.

Only 15 percent of respondents will be offered full-time remote working.  28 percent of respondents will be offered one or two days’ remote per week, and 19 percent will be offered three days per week. Just 15 percent of respondents’ workplaces will allow for full-time remote working.

New job offers, and expectations around remote working policies
When asked to consider a potential new job role, and the minimum number of days’ remote working they’d expect to be offered, a third (32 percent) would expect a minimum of two days per week, whilst a quarter (25 percent) would bank on being offered three days per week. More than one in ten (14 percent) would expect four days’ remote working per week, with men more likely to require this than women (16 percent vs 10 percent). 47 percent of respondents cite flexibility with remote working as one of their top priorities when considering a new job offer, making it the most popular requirement after salary.

Cash incentives

Asked to identify perks which would motivate a return to office-based working, 43 percent would prioritise a financial incentive. £4,000 is the average amount workers would need to be paid extra per annum in order to tempt them back into the office full-time. This represents a 12 percent pay rise relative to the average UK salary of £31,260. Londoners on average would require £5,100 extra per year, £1,500 more than those in the Midlands or the North. Women on average would require an extra  £3,750, vs £4,140 for men.

Respondents were also asked how much of their salary they would willingly sacrifice in order to secure full-time remote working. Just under half (47 percent) are not prepared to sacrifice any amount in order to facilitate this, but for those who are, the average reduction in salary would be £1,450.

Remote working and hindered career progression 

Almost a third (31 percent) of respondents believe that opting to work remotely frequently may hamper their career progression. This concern is highest amongst 18-24 year olds (48 percent), followed by 25-34 year olds (37 percent). Interestingly, those respondents who want to work remotely more frequently are also the most worried about the impact on their careers; 43 percent of those who would like to work remotely the majority of the time feel it will hinder their progression.

Productivity and remote working 

Despite remote working’s popularity, questions remain over its negative impact on productivity. Just 53 percent of respondents feel the standard of their work is ‘equal to or higher’ than pre-pandemic levels. Only a quarter (24 percent) feel their current levels of creativity match or exceed those pre-pandemic. Just 23 percent feel their ability to create and maintain positive relationships with colleagues matches or exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

Sleep benefits from remote working
Asked about how remote working impacts their sleeping habits, 38 percent of office workers state they get no extra sleep when working remotely. A quarter (24 percent) get between 30 -60 minutes’ extra sleep per night, whilst 13 percent get over an hour’s extra snoozing. Men report fewer sleep benefits, with 43 percent getting ‘no extra sleep’ compared to 33 percent of women.

Camera camera, on the wall… who’s the fairest of them all? 

Frequent use of video conferencing has made a third (32 percent) of office workers more self-conscious as a result. This is higher amongst women (38 percent) vs men (26 percent). Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger workers aged 18-24 feel more self-conscious (40 percent).

Job security has increased since last year
Asked about how they rank their job security, 83 percent of respondents feel secure, and not likely to be laid-off or made redundant. Just 12 percent feel non-secure, down from 28 percent in November 2020.