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Older employees and higher earners more likely to prefer hybrid working, poll finds

27 May 2021 By Francis Churchill

Experts warn against one-size-fits-all approach to returning to the office, arguing physical space and interactions will retain ‘important and relevant’ role

Older people and higher earners are more likely to prefer hybrid working than other groups, a survey has found, with younger workers and new starters far more likely to want to work full time in the office.

A poll of 2,500 workers by Totem found two-thirds (66 per cent) of workers over 55 would prefer some form of hybrid working with a mix of working in the office and from home. Just one in five (22 per cent) of this age group wanted to return to the office full time.

In contrast, nearly half (49 per cent) of employees aged 18 to 24 said they wanted to return to the office full time.



Similarly, higher earners were also more likely than lower earners to want some form of hybrid working. Nearly half (47 per cent) of those earning more than £45,000 and just over half (54 per cent) of those earning more than £125,000 said they would prefer some form of hybrid working.

Conversely, two in five (42 per cent) of those earning under £45,000 wanted hybrid working, compared to almost half (48 per cent) who wanted to work full time in an office.

And just 38 per cent of those earning less than £30,000 said they wanted some form of hybrid working, compared to half (50 per cent) who would prefer to be in the office full time.


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The poll also found a slight preference for office working among those who were single, compared to those who were married or living with a partner. Just under half (48 per cent) of single people expressed a preference for office working, with more than two in five (44 per cent) preferring hybrid working.

This compared to half (50 per cent) of married people and 46 per cent of those cohabiting who preferred a hybrid set-up.

Marcus Thornley, CEO and founder of Totem, said the findings reiterated that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to returning to the workplace wasn’t “suitable for businesses”, and that employers needed to seek feedback from their staff about what was best for them.

Thornley added that some groups – in particular higher earners – were likely to be better set up for remote working compared to younger, lower-earning or single employees, who “may be living in smaller or shared accommodation, seek more social interaction with co-workers and want to gain more work experience face-to-face”.

“Physical space and interactions will retain an important and relevant role in our workplace culture so, for now, a model that allows people greater choice about where they work is likely to be best, so they are not limited to one location,” he said.

The survey also looked at the preference of new starters, and found that the majority across age ranges would prefer to go through their onboarding process in the office rather than online.

Four in five (80 per cent) 18 to 24-year-olds and seven in 10 (71 per cent) over-55s said they preferred to onboard in the office.

In a separate poll of 1,000 new starters, conducted by Totem in February this year, three in five (60 per cent) said their experience of starting a new role remotely had felt much harder than in previous office-based roles.

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