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Four-day weeks and flexibility key to enticing workers back to offices

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A quarter of employees would switch to a four-day working week even if their pay was cut to reflect their reduced working hours, according to new research.

A survey of more than 1,000 UK adults in full- or part-time work by office designers MoreySmith also found that if their current pay was maintained, 70% would be in favour of switching to a four-day week. Only 14% said they were against doing so.

With many companies now gearing up for employees to return to physical workplaces when the work from home guidance ends on June 21, the survey suggested that employers may need to make adjustments if they want to tempt workers back.

Most of the employees polled now expected more flexibility with regard to working hours, with 66% saying flexibility over start times would be an important factor in their decision to return to the office.

Workers were also eager to see their workplaces adapted to reflect the blurring of home lives and work that has taken place over the past year.

For example, 19% of pet owners said being able to bring their pet to work would influence their decision to stop working from home, while 44% said access to outdoor space would be a key factor.

Many also wanted facilities to allow them to cycle to work, with 35% wanting their workplaces to provide secure bike storage and showers.

Linda Morey-Burrows, Founder and Principal Director at MoreySmith, said: “As this polling demonstrates, it’s essential that workspaces are designed to encourage and stimulate this return to work. Offices must be designed to cater for the new world with flexibility, comfort, outside spaces and sociability in mind.

“I think these results are a snapshot of opinion today and it’s important that we take a measured response and continue to look forward and create spaces people love to be in.”

She added that employers needed to take into account the different needs of different demographics when preparing for workers’ return to offices. For example, the research found that while many young people wanted to return to offices, those with long commutes and young children might be harder to tempt back to physical workspaces.

For workers across all age groups, there was one thing that the majority was particularly keen to see and that was ‘Covid havens’, with 67% of respondents wanting offices that guaranteed hygiene so there was no need for Covid restrictions once on-site.

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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