‘Ideal’ Working Week For UK Office Workers Drops To 29 Hours

The ideal working week is now 29 hours, down from 32 hours last year, according to Workthere.
  • Research from flexible office specialist Workthere finds a reduction in preferred working hours.
  • The ideal working week is now 29 hours, down from 32 hours last year.
  • The reduction is partly blamed on disruption to the regular working week due to COVID-19.

The ideal working week for UK-based office workers has decreased by three hours according to research from Workthere.

In a survey of over 1000 UK office workers conducted in July 2020, the flexible office specialist found that the current ideal working week is 29 hours, compared to 32 hours last year*.

Workthere also found that the actual current working week has decreased from 38 hours in May 2019 to a current average of 32 hours per week. This figure differs by office type with a 30 hour week typical for those based in serviced offices, compared to 33 hours per week for those based in traditional offices.

Cal Lee, global head of Workthere, comments: “A lot has changed since we did our first survey regarding the ideal working week last year. UK office workers have seen a substantial level of disruption in 2020 and it is no surprise that this has influenced their preferred working hours.

“Working from home over the last five months has raised a number of questions around productivity with many office workers realising that, by structuring their working week slightly differently, they may work more efficiently and therefore get more done in a shorter space of time. As businesses return to the office and we see a more blended mix of office and home working moving forward, we expect to see a continued shift in the pattern of hours worked across UK offices.”

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Workthere’s survey also found that 29% of respondents had access to flexible working arrangements prior to the pandemic and an additional 47% expect them going forwards, highlighting the continued importance of flexible working within the office.

Surprisingly, only 21% of traditional office workers were able to work flexibly pre-Covid, while an additional 48% now expect to in the future. This compares to 43% of serviced office workers being able to work flexibly prior to the pandemic, with only a minimal increase to 44% expecting to be able to post-Covid. Age also appeared to have in impact in terms of flexible working with 58% of 35-44 year olds expecting their employer to offer flexible working going forwards compared to only 16% of those in the 65+ age group.

Jessica Alderson, global research analyst at Workthere, says: “The need for flexibility in the workplace has been substantially accelerated over the last five months and our survey results support the fact that many UK office workers expect to see it become more commonplace moving forward. By nature serviced offices promote the benefits of flexibility, which we are now seeing become more prominent in traditional offices also. As we navigate our way forwards, the office landscape will inevitably need to adapt in order to support the changing needs of the workforce.”

*Workthere ran a similar survey in March 2019, which found the ideal working week for UK office workers was 32 hours.

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