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Young call time on firms that refuse to be flexible

Young people will not join companies that are inflexible about how their staff choose to work, a study suggests.

More than half of those aged 18 to 34 said that they did not believe they had to be in an office full-time. More than a third said that they had made a career change to work more flexibly during the pandemic.

The study by the business finance lender Sonovate, based on a survey of 4,500 people, suggests that the coronavirus crisis has prompted a shift in attitudes. Two out of five of those surveyed did not want to work the way they did before the pandemic.

Official statistics show that the proportion of employees travelling to work has risen since national restrictions were eased at the end of March and now exceeds 50 per cent.

Senior business figures and politicians have been divided over the issue, with some saying that those who work from home will fall behind.

Catherine Mann, an economist on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said this month that women who work from home were at particular risk as “two tracks” develop in the workplace.

However, Jane Fraser, boss of Citigroup, one of America’s largest banks, has said that allowing staff to work from home for part of the week had reinvigorated the workforce.

Richard Prime, co-founder of Sonovate, said: “As the pandemic caused a significant proportion of the UK’s younger employees to lose jobs or go on furlough, young workers had more time than ever to consider what they want from their careers.

“The crisis prompted a tremendous shift in attitudes towards what ‘working’ looks like, with companies left with no choice but to accommodate home-working, many for the first time ever.

“Younger people’s preferences towards portfolio careers and multiple side-gigs are rooted in a desire for a better work-life balance and to make an income from what they are passionate about.”

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Young call time on firms that refuse to be flexible

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