New research from TopCV, the world’s largest CV-writing service, reveals that UK employees want ongoing flexibility from their employer, with just 7 percent of professionals ranking an office return as their top priority for 2021.

Despite a tumultuous year, when TopCV asked professionals whether their work lives had improved in 2020, more than half (54%) stated they had, indeed, found silver linings. Greater flexibility in employees’ working hours was the number-on reason (45%) for this improvement. 

Throughout the pandemic, flexibility allowed employees to experience a greater work-life balance. Nearly one-fourth (24%) said it improved their work lives by allowing them more time to work on side-hustles, volunteer opportunities and personal interests, and a further 24 percent said they used the additional hours to focus on their mental health or wellbeing.

Unsurprisingly, this much-appreciated perk has fueled a resistance to returning to the office in the new year. Instead, employees want their employers to offer continued or greater flexibility this year, with 14 percent even going so far as to hope their employer implements a four-day working week in 2021.

Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV, commented: “This nearly year-long work-from-home experiment has allowed many lifelong commuters to experience, firsthand, the benefits of remote work — and our data confirms they are unwilling to give up these perks and return to office life. For those whose requests to work from home had previously fallen on deaf ears, now you can make a stronger argument to continue working remotely throughout this year. 

If you’re hoping to negotiate continued or greater flexibility from your employer, Amanda has some tips: 

  • Arm yourself with research. Do your due diligence to determine whether or not your organisation has a policy for working remotely. If no policy exists, research online to discover other companies — ideally competitors of your employer or ones that share similar traits — that have offered flexible working arrangements to employees before the pandemic or plan to do so after the crisis subsides.Also be prepared to support your proposal with data on the benefits of remote work. A flexible work schedule, when properly implemented, can be a win-win for you and your employer. 
  • Revisit your position. Before proposing a permanent virtual work arrangement to your boss, have an honest conversation with yourself to determine if working remotely is a feasible option for your job once your organisation resumes some form of normalcy. If there are aspects of your role that are performed more efficiently from the office, consider proposing a schedule that would allow you to work from home most of the time and come into the office, as needed, to ensure your work is meeting your manager’s standards.
  • Prove your productivity. While studies have shown that remote work increases productivity, some employers are still skeptical. If you want to convince your manager to offer you continued flexibility in the future, you must convince them of your productivity now. Be responsive and proactive in your communication, whether that’s via email, phone, Slack, or some other tool you’re using to collaborate with colleagues. Also, don’t forget to keep your boss informed of your progress on projects and the output of your work. 

Between 10 November 2020 and 23 November 2020, TopCV surveyed 1,056 UK employees. The questions asked, responses and percentage of respondents are as follows:

What do you want most from your current employer in 2021?

  • More or continued flexibility – 30%
  • More meaningful connections with colleagues, surpassing the ‘work-relationship’ – 14%
  • 4-day work week – 14%
  • Better technology/tools – 12%
  • More mental health and wellbeing support – 9%
  • A return to office life – 7%
  • Greater focus on diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) – 7%
  • Budget to improve my home office – 5% 

How has your work life improved in 2020? Tick all that apply.

  • My work life has not improved in 2020 – 46%
  • I’ve experienced greater flexibility in my working hours, improving my work-life balance – 30%
  • I’ve had more time to work on my side-hustle/volunteering/personal interests – 24%
  • I’ve been able to focus more on my wellbeing or mental health – 24%
  • I feel more connected to colleagues now than before the pandemic began – 19%
  • My work life has improved in other ways not listed above – 40%

About TopCV

TopCV, a Talent Inc. company, is the world’s premier CV-writing service, analysing millions of CVs and LinkedIn profiles each year. Job seekers work directly with professional writers and industry experts to redefine their personal brand and stand out from the crowd during the job-search process. Follow TopCV on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.