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New survey from Workology reveals changing employee Attitudes to Work

11 June 2008 – Forty-one per cent of flexible workers would forgo a 100 per cent pay rise if it meant giving up control of the way they work, according to the results of a new survey by Workology, an online community that supports flexible workers, freelancers, portfolio workers, and self-employed professionals. When the incentive to return to traditional 9-5 was lowered to a 50 per cent pay increase, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) claimed that they would prefer to keep control of their work arrangements.

Today’s working environment sees more and more people working outside the ‘traditional’ 9-5, and flexible working to support issues such as childcare or cost savings is supported by legislation and many corporate employers. But the Workology survey suggests that the desire to take control of our working lives goes deeper than just practical considerations (i.e. a desire to pursue more personally fulfilling career avenues) Workology questioned more than 1000 flexible workers – made up of part-time or flexi-time workers, freelancers, self-employed professionals, ‘portfolio workers’, and remote workers - about their attitudes to work and their motivations for working outside the traditional 9-5. It also asked them to assess whether the benefits of non-traditional working outweighed the concerns about leaving the corporate environment.

The Workology survey provides a revealing insight to attitudes to work. Highlights include:

• The most commonly cited benefits for flexible working are: controlling when and where you work (49 per cent); escaping the rat race (35 per cent); and having more time to pursue own interests (30 per cent)

• 58 per cent found they missed the infrastructure and support provided by corporate life, and found it difficult to know how to access to find the support they needed when leaving this environment

• Flexible working is becoming ‘the norm’: 25 per cent anticipate that the majority of the UK workforce will not be working a conventional week in five years’ time

• Flexible working does not necessarily mean working fewer hours: 32 per cent work between 41 and 50 hours a week; and 30 per cent work more than 50 hours per week – well over the 48-hour week being debated by employment ministers in Europe this week.

• 71 per cent believe that employers with more than 50 staff should be legally obliged to offer flexible working options – regardless of whether the employee has children

• Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) earn a comparable or higher income than when they worked full-time or in a corporate environment

• 56 per cent relinquished their initial anxieties about switching to flexible working terms or self-employment after just six months, while 75 per cent no longer felt anxious after 12 months

• 43 per cent say that switching to a different way of working has improved the quality of their life ‘a lot’, while just under one-third (32 per cent) claim it has improved ‘enormously’

Results in full

When it comes to ‘how’ opting out of full-time work has helped improve their quality of life, flexible workers cite a number of reasons: being able to control when and where you work (49 per cent); escaping the rat race (35 per cent); having more time to pursue own interests (30 per cent); more time to spend with family (23 per cent).

It is clear that flexible workers no longer consider themselves a minority: one-quarter anticipate that the majority of the UK workforce will not be working a conventional week in five years’ time.

Striking a healthy work-life balance is important for most people and it is something that the vast majority of flexible workers feel that they’ve achieved. According to the survey, 43 per cent say that flexible working has improved the quality of their life ‘a lot’, while 32 per cent claim it has improved ‘enormously’. Just four per cent believe that they have not seen an improvement since opting out of the office-based 9-5 work environment.

It is typical for people to feel apprehensive when leaving the safety net of full-time employment within a company for the relative uncertainty of freelancing – but the survey found that such anxieties are short lived. Fifty-six per cent claimed that any initial anxieties subsided after only six months, a figure that rose to 75 per cent after a year.

One of the most common concerns before switching to a flexible working life is being able to secure enough regular work to match the income of full-time employment. According to the Workology survey, however, potential freelancers should harbour no such worries: 62 per cent of freelancers earn a comparable or higher income than when they worked full-time.

Leaving the infrastructure of a corporate environment is not without its risks. More than half of those surveyed (58 per cent) claimed that when they first made the break, they missed the lack of infrastructure, including the ready-made network of people to give advice or share experiences. Workology has been created to fulfil this need, by bringing together professionals, organisations and businesses to share expertise, knowledge and work opportunities.
And in the mean time, flexible workers believe that the government should do much more to help those in full-time employment fit work around their lives, rather than the other way round. Seventy-one per cent believe that employers with more than 50 staff should be legally obliged to offer flexible working options – regardless of whether the employee has children.

Comment on the results

Emily Stokes Hotchkiss, a life coach and expert on the psychology of flexible working, comments: "This survey confirms what I'm encountering more frequently amongst coaching clients. It seems we're approaching a tipping point with growing numbers of people moving away from traditional employment, towards freelancing and self-employment.

And as more people see their peers enjoying greater choice about when and where they work, I expect to see increasing numbers of professionals taking the plunge."

Sam Gyimah, Managing Director, Workology, comments: “Technology has long held a determining influence on the way we work. In the industrial revolution, machines facilitated mass production and dictated what hours we worked. Today, far from tying us down to rigid working patterns, technology is a liberating force. The desire to change the way we work goes far beyond just practical considerations. It’s about taking control.

“We are entering the next stage in the evolution of work. The internet and high broadband penetration is steadily putting paid to the traditional working week and it won’t be long before flexible working becomes the norm. Figures from the Professional Contractors Group say that as much as 40% of the UK workforce will be freelance by 2010.

“Workology reflects this shift. It provides a community for members to address their flexible work needs in one place, such as work opportunities, networking function, advice and information, and practical resources.”

Workology polled 1000 flexible workers in June 2008. For more information on Workology, visit www.workology.com.

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History of work

Workology has produced a timeline of the milestones that have affected the way we work, from the industrial revolution to the present day. This is available upon request from malini.majithia@carrotcomms.co.uk.

About Workology

Workology is an online community that helps people take control of the way they work. It brings together flexible working professionals, organisations and businesses and lets them share expertise, knowledge and work opportunities.

Workology launched in March 2008. It is in beta, and already has 2000 members – a figure that is growing by around 100 per cent month on month. Many, but not all, of these users come from the creative industries – the early adopters of flexible working.

Members of the site can: promote their own services for free by creating their own mini-website within Workology; build a referral network; share business experiences and advice within the community; and post and reply to job opportunities on the site. They can also post questions, ask for advice or engage in discussions on any work-related issues. There are excellent networking opportunities on Workology, allowing members to get referrals and support from its diverse community of individuals, organisations and businesses, who all share a similar approach to work.

If you would like further information, or to speak to Sam Gyimah, Workology, life coach Emily Stokes, or members of the site for case studies please call Kate Hartley or Malini Majithia on 020 7386 4860 / email kate.hartley@carrotcomms.co.uk.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Carrot Communications in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, Media & Marketing, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.