Folk want to work less and more flexibly

New research finds employees want to work fewer hours post-pandemic and most expect to be able to work flexibly

Man overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities at work


Folk want to work fewer hours and more flexibly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

New research found the average employee wants to work just 29 hours per week. That’s down from 32 hours a week when the same question was asked a year ago. Those figures will cheer campaigners working towards a four day week as standard.

And while 29% of those questioned had access to flexible working arrangements prior to the pandemic many more expect to have the same going forward. An extra 47% of workers want flexible working now. That adds up to around eight in ever 10 employees expecting to work flexibly going forward.


The research was carried out by flexible office company Workthere. It found people’s actual working week has decreased since 2019. Yet separate research has shown productivity holding up.

Cal Lee, global head of Workthere, commented, “A lot has changed since we did our first survey regarding the ideal working week last year. UK office workers have seen a substantial level of disruption in 2020 and it is no surprise that this has influenced their preferred working hours.

“Working from home over the last five months has raised a number of questions around productivity with many office workers realising that, by structuring their working week slightly differently, they may work more efficiently and therefore get more done in a shorter space of time. As businesses return to the office and we see a more blended mix of office and home working moving forward, we expect to see a continued shift in the pattern of hours worked across UK offices.”


Only 21% of traditional office workers said they were able to work flexibly pre-Covid. That points to an attitude towards granting flexible working that has gone out of date very swiftly.

Age also impacts access to flexible working. 58% of 35-44 year olds expect their employer to offer flexible working going forwards. But just 16% of those in the 65+ age group agree. Older workers embracing flexible work looks to be a big growth area in the future. Particularly as the economy evolves through the recession.


Jessica Alderson is a global research analyst at Workthere. She said, “The need for flexibility in the workplace has substantially accelerated over the last five months. Our survey results support the fact that many UK office workers expect to see it become more commonplace moving forward. As we navigate our way forwards, the office landscape will inevitably need to adapt in order to support the changing needs of the workforce.”

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