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Prioritising flexibility, younger Australians far more reluctant to return to office full-time

A study of over 30,000 workers in 17 countries has found that the majority of young people would consider looking for a new job if an employer were to implement in-person work every day.

In Australia alone, more than half (54 per cent) of 18-24 year olds and nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of 25-34 year olds surveyed said they would prefer looking for alternate employment rather than take on full-time hours in the office.

The ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View report found that extended COVID lockdowns have changed work habits, especially among younger staff members who now prioritise flexibility in their work conditions. Other top considerations include travel costs and travel time.

 “Whilst remote work was a necessity during peak COVID waves, businesses must now be more purposeful and conscious of the evolving needs of workers and employers as they navigate future working arrangements – whether that includes a return to office or remote arrangements,” said Kylie Baullo, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, ADP.

“Businesses should consider not only where employees prefer to work, but also how they work most effectively. Engaging and supporting people leaders to align how work is done with where work is done.”     

To implement this effectively, Ms Baullo notes that face-to-face sessions between leaders and employees are “helpful to ensure the different needs of generations and other individual scenarios are considered and planned for.”

The report explored employees’ expectations and attitudes towards the current world of work and the workplace of the future, surveying over 30,000 workers across the globe in countries like India, Australia, Germany, the UK, USA, and Brazil.

Seven in 10 respondents highlighted they would like more flexibility as to when, as well as where, they work – such as a four day work week. Around half suggested they would take a pay cut if it meant flexibility in how they structure their hours or improving work-life balance.

Globally, it appears “the physical office space is more than ever becoming a consideration”, added Ms Baullo.

However, with this, there are concerns that younger workers could miss opportunities for networking, learning, and developing their career in their reluctance for an office environment.

“To ensure career opportunities are not missed, businesses will need to consider how to entice staff to work in-person, as well as provide a balanced workplace by also meeting the needs and wants of staff through flexible options,” Ms Baullo stated.

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READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacqui Bull: transforming Australia’s staffing market

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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