45% of British office professionals would take a pay cut to continue working from home long-term

But over a third said they’d likely to quit if their organisation started monitoring productivity

Forty-five percent of British office workers would accept a pay cut if it meant they could work from home long-term, amounting to a total public pay cut of £5.6bn for remote working privileges to stay in place.

It’s no surprise that attitudes towards home working have transformed in the last seven months, since the ongoing pandemic forced businesses to operate online and adhere to social distancing restrictions. Striving to track how perspectives have shifted in line with this ‘new normal’,  Owl Labs conducted a study of the changing business landscape, called UK State of Remote Work.

The research suggests that the majority (84%) of full-time workers are planning to work from home in some form for the rest of 2020, while almost half (41%) would want to resign if they were forced to return to the office against their will.

On top of this, 44% of respondents say they intend to work a full five-day week while working from home, with 55% preferring a more ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ working week with one to four days in the office.

Of the 45% who claimed they were willing to take a pay cut to carry on working from home, 15% would accept a 5% reduction in pay – the equivalent of £1,518 a year from the average full-time salary of £30,353. However, many respondents said that if their employer enforced pay cuts without offering benefits – such as the freedom to work from home – the reaction would be very different.

According to the study, 46% of workers would resign if their company were proposing pay cuts as part of general cost savings, while 41% said they’d quit if their employer reduced their pay following their personal decision to move to a rural location where they could permanently work from home.

The pandemic and additional pressures such as the Brexit fallout means UK business are feeling the heat, but if they’re looking to make cost savings, they should carefully consider their options before cutting employee pay. If employers were to make a cost of living adjustment to salaries to account for savings on commuting whilst employees are working from home, more than half (51%) of their workforce would deem the decision unfair and seek another role, while 8% would quit straight up – whether they had a new job secured or not.

In addition to this, almost three-quarters (74%) of employees feel their company should fund or provide office technology equipment to enable working from home, with 50% also thinking their employer should be responsible for providing office furniture. Half of respondents also felt that their employer should contribute to WiFi and phone bills, with 48% also saying they’d like their company to at least partially pay their electricity bill.

When workers eventually return to the office environment (as well as for employees who are unable to work from home), 62% of respondents believe their employer should supply free COVID-19 tests, with 65% also agreeing that PPE should be provided as standard.

It seems that the public is enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home, but while employers might have concerns surrounding productivity, they should have some reservations about implementing remote monitoring technology. While working from home, 61% of employees would have concerns if their company introduced remote activity and productivity monitoring, with 36% saying they’d likely resign if so. Almost three-quarters (72%) also cited concerns about the use of video tracking; 61% were worried about attention tracking apps; 60% mentioned keyboard tracking apps; and more than half (52%) would likely quit if their employer started to monitor time spent on certain apps or websites.

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