Following suggestions that the UK is behind in the global drive for flexible working, a new study has revealed that more than eight in 10 office based millennial employees do not work from home during an average working week.
Of those surveyed, 82% claimed they are not able or allowed to do so, despite three quarters of UK office workers confirming their employer does offer flexible working options.
The research surveyed 1,000 UK adult office workers and questioned the reality of flexible working across the UK today, especially for young professionals or ‘millennial’ workers, defined as aged 18-27.
The results suggest that for this group of employees, flexible working is not a viable option. Six in 10 millennials who have worked (or have asked to work) flexibly say they have felt judged or penalised for doing so and of those, just under half have felt judged by company management or senior leadership. Two in 10 millennial respondents have been actively refused flexible working options by an employer after requesting it.
Since 2014, requesting flexible working has been outlined by the Government as an employees’ right, but is now considered by millennials as more of a ‘selective benefit’ for a choice group of people.
Two thirds of millennials believe employees with families are more encouraged to work flexibly than their single colleagues, and six in 10 say the same applies to senior co-workers, suggesting that junior team members more often discouraged from flexible working initiatives. Nearly half say it is a benefit reserved for management and senior leadership only.
Oliver Watson, Executive Board Director for UK and North America at PageGroup, said: “There is a clear and increasing demand for flexible working options among UK employees, especially from the newest generation of workers.
“Placing restrictions on flexible working – encouraging or excluding certain employees – is counter-intuitive. Truly flexible working should be open to all, indiscriminate of age, gender, seniority or role.”
The reality of flexible working for young professionals also seems to be at odds with their expectations of its availability. More than 50% of 18 to 27 year-olds believe flexible working should come as standard, but three in five point out that their ability to work flexibly hasn’t improved, or has worsened in the last 12 months. 45% acknowledge there is a disconnect between what flexible benefits their business currently offer, and what they actually want, need and expect.
Watson continued: “By empowering employees to take charge of their productivity – something 46% of respondents called out as a benefit of flexible working – businesses will not only be rewarded with increased employee loyalty, but a much more efficient workforce and a high trust, high performance culture.”
For many, flexible working means becoming self-employed or starting up your own business. Unsure of where to start? TaxAssist Accountants are here to help. Call us today on 0800 0523 555 or use our online contact form to get in touch.