UK workforce would trade 9-5 job for seven-day flexibility

seven-day flexibility
© Martin Novak |

With employees looking for more control over their work-life balance, businesses must offer more seven-day flexibility or risk losing workers

A new survey from Worksome shows that UK employees crave the true flexibility offered by a seven-day working week. Businesses that don’t adopt a culture of flexibility not only risk losing their staff to the lure of the gig economy but could also lose competitive advantage as a result of becoming unattractive and inaccessible to next-gen talent.

The research shows that employees no longer want to be chained to the Industrial  Revolution-inspired 9-5 working week, Monday to Friday. While employers increasingly offer a four-day week as a sweetener, this is not the right fit for all employees. Worksome found that employees want the option to pick their working hours from across seven days.

Key findings:

  • Nearly half (47%) of employees said that the option to spread their work across the whole week would increase their work-life balance
  • Nearly half (47%) of 25-34-year-olds said that the ability to work across seven days would seriously cut their childcare costs
  • 27% said they wanted to be able to prioritise their personal time and work hours that fit around their life

It is families who can benefit most from the introduction of a seven day working week.

The average wage per week for a full-time worker in the UK stands at £569, and with childcare costs hitting an average of £232.84 per week, many families are facing a difficult decision: should one of the parents sacrifice their career to stay at home with the children to bypass childcare costs?

Findings from the 2018 Modern Families Index show that lack of flexibility negatively impacts career progression. 1 in 5 (18%) reported they have deliberately stalled their careers in order to stay at home with children and avoid childcare costs, while more than 1 in 10 (11%) have refused a new job and 1 in 10 have rejected a promotion because of the limited work-life balance opportunities.

CCO and co-founder of Worksome, Mathias Linnemann said: “Flexibility is not about needing to work less, but a need to spread the working hours out over times that fit around family commitments or life aspirations. Offering employees the choice to pick their working week across a seven day period affords them true flexibility around their existing commitments. We believe the seven-day working week is better for everyone.

“Our research shows that businesses need to look at expanding the normal work hours or risk losing their core teams as they move towards having more control over their own work-life balance.”

It’s no secret that today’s workforce values their flexibility, especially among the younger generations. Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2018 found that flexibility is the most important factor for staff loyalty and retention among millennials.

However, Worksome’s research also found that businesses are uncertain about introducing flexible working:

  • 81% said they were not using flexible working perks as part of their recruitment strategy
  • 86% of business owners admitted to shunning flexible working practices, and are actively choosing not to encourage them
  • 25% of the board directors surveyed said that they would prefer to lose staff rather than offer a more flexible work environment

Worksome’s Mathias Linneman continued: “Today’s workforce craves a different professional life to previous generations. A regimented 4 or 5 day week won’t cut it for them. Companies should, therefore, focus on how they can create an attractive workspace and help further their careers and goals. The key is flexibility and trusting that employees can decide on the schedule that allows them to perform the best.

“Those businesses that embrace this dynamic will be the winning organisations who will also open up new opportunities for increased revenues. The key to that scenario working will be about sourcing a talent pool of highly skilled people that want — and need — different working hours than are currently offered. It’s a supply and demand issue, and historically this has been a major barrier to expanded working weeks becoming a reality.”


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