A new study of finance and other professional service workers shows that employees prefer more flexibility in their work—while companies continue to crack down on remote work.
- The future of remote work is still in question, with the majority of employees preferring it and major corporations cracking down against it due to lowering productivity.
- Twitter CEO Elon Musk demanded all staff return to the office shortly after taking over the company. Snapchat is demanding employees work in the office 80% of the time. General Motors is requiring a three-day office week as of January 30.
- Employees still prefer remote—95% of employees see hybrid work as the future, allowing for remote but requiring some office time. 29.1% of U.S. employees worked remote or hybrid in October.
- A new study co-authored by London School of Economics and Political Science director Grace Lordan shows employees want flexibility in their schedules, want less rigid requirements, and work more productively when they aren’t forced to work traditional nine-to-five hours.
Why it’s Important
As we previously reported, employees feel empowered to seek more flexible work and they know they have the power to demand it. Several companies attempted to enforce return-to-office mandates after Labor Day but ultimately relented. The shrinking labor market in the past two months has reduced the prevalence of remote job opportunities though. Corporations are still skittish about allowing the practice to continue.
“Some leaders like Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, aren’t fans of hybrid work. Solomon wants employees back in the office five days a week, despite some pushback. Following the Omicron wave in February, only about 5,000 of Goldman’s 10,000 workers at the firm’s New York headquarters returned,” says Fortune Daily.
Lordan’s study is focused on building inclusive frameworks for underrepresented populations, particularly women in the workplace. As she points out, companies that want to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce need to take hybrid work into account as a factor, as her sample of employees preferred autonomy as a feature in their job selection.
One hundred financial and professional-service employees in the U.K. contributed to the study and found the majority of the sample rejected four-day mandatory work weeks as rigid and inflexible. Allowing employees to set their own hours reportedly improved their productivity.
“The firms themselves often have mandates on the number of days employees are expected to show up. However, employees prefer an approach that puts productivity and autonomy first,” says Lordan.
“The four-day workweek is very rigid. We found that managers in firms were adopting much more imaginative approaches to the future of work and seeing the benefits in terms of productivity.”