A third of UK workers would take a pay cut to work from home permanently

·4 min read
A third of UK workers would take a pay cut to work from home permanently
Some 36% of employees said they believe their employer is not providing a fair balance between remote and office working. Photo: Getty

Over a third of UK workers (35%) would be willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for permanent remote working, new research by job site Reed has found.

Almost one in five workers (19%) said they felt their employer was not flexible enough when it came to working from home, according to the survey of 2,000 UK employees.

A total of 36% of employees said they believe their employer is not providing a fair balance between remote and office working.

Of this, 17% of respondents said their employer is too flexible, implying that some workers want to be in the office more than is currently being offered to them and demonstrating the challenges employers face in finding the right balance between working from home and coming into the workplace.

Almost a third (32%) of younger workers aged between 18 and 34 want more office-based working compared to less than one in 10 (8%) employees over the age of 45.

Read more: Recruitment of Black graduates failing to impact racial injustice at work

In August, chancellor Rishi Sunak said young people would help their careers by working in the office and that they risked missing out on building skills and work relationships if they worked from home.

Sunak worked in finance, including at banking giant Goldman Sachs (GS). He said he still maintained relationships with his early mentors.

"I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or my first bit of my career over Teams and Zoom.

"That's why I think for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable."

Men (21%) are more likely than women (12%) to feel that their employer is too flexible, according to the survey.

This comes as Bank of England policy maker Catherine Mann warned that women who work from home may suffer in their careers, as online communication cannot replicate the spontaneous office conversations that are important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces.

Read more: Work from home may damage women's careers, says BoE policymaker

Mann pointed to difficulty accessing childcare and COVID-related disruption to schooling as reasons why many women were continuing to work from home, while men returned to the office.

"There is the potential for two tracks. There's the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track. And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who's going to be on which track, unfortunately," she said.

Flexible working is creating further tensions in the workplace when it comes to wages and career opportunities. Over a quarter (26%) of survey respondents felt that full-time office-based employees should be paid more than those working remotely full-time.

Almost a quarter (23%) said that staff who were in the office full-time should be prioritised for promotion over those working from home full-time, while over a third (37%) thought that workers in the office should receive more perks than full-time remote workers.

Simon Wingate, managing director of Reed.co.uk, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a variety of businesses across a range of sectors offer different approaches to flexible and remote working. Some companies are still hesitant to fully commit to post-pandemic flexible working, while others have embraced it. With so much change still happening, it may take more time for companies to find the right arrangement that works for their business and employees.

Read more: Recruitment of Black graduates failing to impact racial injustice at work

“While flexible working can seem like an impossible challenge to get right, the key thing is to ensure employees have a certain level of choice and autonomy over how, when and where they spend their working day — keeping in mind the fact that what works for one group of people won’t necessarily work for another.

“In a competitive labour market, businesses must think creatively and listen carefully to their staff to provide a tailored approach that works on both an individual and collective level. This will help to improve their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.”

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