Majority of workers want more flexibility over hours, poll finds

But while a four-day week could attract talent in a tight labour market, experts say firms must consider what arrangements will work in the long run

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The majority of UK workers want more control over their working hours, a survey has found, with many willing to take a pay cut in exchange.

The poll, conducted by ADP, found 60 per cent of UK workers would like more flexibility as to when they work; for example, by moving to a four-day week while maintaining the same number of overall hours.

The survey also found 45 per cent would be willing to accept lower pay if it meant an improvement to their work-life balance, increasing to 60 per cent when looking only at those in Greater London.

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Similarly, 40 per cent said they would take a pay cut in exchange for total flexibility over where they worked, increasing to 57 per cent in the capital.

The research was part of an international poll of more than 32,000 workers, including 15,680 in the UK and Europe.

Sirsha Haldar, ADP’s general manager for UK & Ireland, said introducing a four-day week “merits serious consideration”, especially for organisations that are looking to retain talent but are unable to increase wages.

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“In today’s tight labour market, maintaining a happy and stable workforce is paramount. It's clear that hybrid work and the desire for flexibility after two years of working from home is not going away,” he said.

However, separate research released earlier this week suggests few jobseekers are confident that employers will deliver on the promise of a four-day week. A poll of 800 candidates, conducted by Aspire, found 73 per cent were interested in moving to a four-day week, but 45 per cent were not convinced their current employer would make the change.

Just a quarter (25 per cent) were confident or very confident their employer would roll out a reduced working week, with another 30 per cent unsure.

Paul Farrer, chair and founder of Aspire, said he was “sceptical” about how successful a four-day week would be. “Given the appetite for a four-day week, it could be decisive when it comes to attracting talent and retaining staff, he said.

But, he cautioned: “[While] it might offer an advantage in recruitment and employee wellbeing when the economy is growing, employers must carefully consider if it will deliver a commercial advantage and work logistically in the long run.”