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Flexible Hours More Important To Workers Than Remote Work, Survey Says


While U.S. office workers are unsurprisingly still looking for flexibility when it comes to remote versus in-person work, more of them are seeking flexibility when it comes to their work hours, a new survey shows. 

Data from a survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers found that 95% of respondents wanted flexible hours, versus 78% of respondents who wanted the flexibility to decide where they work. 

Though location and work-hour flexibility are clearly high priorities for workers, the near unanimity of the desire for flexible work hours from overall respondents was notable, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The data, collected in November and published in a January report from Future Forum, also showed that the desire for flexibility in location and work hours was most pronounced among groups that are underrepresented among knowledge workers, including people of color. 

Eighty-six percent of Hispanic/Latinx respondents and 81% of Asian/Asian American and Black workers surveyed said they would prefer either a hybrid or fully remote work environment, compared to 75% of White respondents. 

Future Forum, a Slack Technologies Inc.-led group that tracks the future of work, surveyed full-time employees who “work with data, analyze information or think creatively." The company has been surveying knowledge workers and reporting on the findings since 2020. 

The report comes as the pandemic and the omicron variant continue to throw a wrench in the return-to-work plans of many companies, forcing them to yet again adjust plans and timelines.

The pandemic has also highlighted a demand for flexibility, which Future Forum Vice President Sheela Subramanian believes will outlast the pandemic, as employers rethink the importance of how many hours employees work, according to the WSJ. 

“It really needs to be a shift from presenteeism and activity tracking to actually understanding the results that people are driving and the value that they’re creating,” Subramanian said. 

Still, companies shouldn't just factor employee choices into workplace decisions, Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University who studies remote work, told the WSJ.

“There is going to be a battle royale over choice versus coordination,” Bloom said.

The Future Forum report noted that many employees are weighing job flexibility heavily: 72% of surveyed workers who were unhappy with the amount of flexibility they have at their current position said they were likely to look for a new job in the next year.