Why younger workers miss out on flexible working (and how businesses can combat that) 

In theory, every employee should be able to benefit from flexible working now that employers have realized what benefits it can bring. The COVID-19 pandemic is often thought to have acquainted many people with a new way of working that they are now keen not to relinquish.

In practice, however, there appears to be a generational gap in the extent to which workers are able to capitalize on hybrid working. The good news is that businesses can act to at least alleviate this issue, even if eliminating it altogether might be too much of a stretch for them.

Are young workers struggling with flexible working?

In a July 2022 study of 2,000 knowledge workers in the US and UK, 74% of executives were found to be capable of working in line with their own timetable. However, this percentage fell to just 24% in the case of junior staff, the BBC reports.

Even when younger workers do technically have the option of taking up hybrid working, it doesn’t always work out for them. In Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, 61% of corporate leaders describe themselves as “thriving”, but it’s a very different situation for staffers lower down the ladder.

In the same Index, just 38% of workers not in decision-making roles are classed as “thriving”. Holders of these roles tend to be relatively young — and, indeed, 60% of workers aged between 18 and 25 claim to be just surviving or even flat-out struggling.

Younger people face difficulty in creating ‘proper’ home offices 

We have probably all heard stories of people working at the kitchen table or in bed during the pandemic — and this kind of situation has probably remained true for many young members of staff, who typically earn less than their older cohorts.

As a result, many younger workers could be sharing their residences with other people and consequently fraught with distractions on a regular basis. Conversely, as younger workers are generally likelier to be single, many of them could feel too socially isolated at home.

The long-standing issue of ‘presenteeism’

The term ‘presenteeism’ describes a situation where workers feel they have to be physically seen working in order to be deemed working. However, it disproportionately affects younger workers.

That’s because they are eager to establish positive reputations for themselves, whereas older workers are often seen as having already proven themselves on this count.

What can employers do about the discrepancy?

One idea could be for them to start measuring employees’ output in a way that loosens the level of importance usually placed on when exactly the work is completed.

As an employer, you could be transparent about how you are measuring work outcomes. This transparency could make younger workers more comfortable with taking up flexible working.

If the flexible workers at your company do grow in number, you might be able to switch to a smaller office and save money in the process, as HRreview suggests. You could save even more money by sourcing your new office via a broker like Office Freedom.