Lowest Paid UK Workers Willing To Sacrifice Salary To Work From Home Permanently

Wednesday 1st September 2021

      • Over a quarter (27%) of UK office workers willing to take a pay cut to work from home permanently, with lower salary earners more prepared to take a hit
      • Younger generations lead the charge for the home office, with over a third of Gen Z (39%) preferring to ditch their desks for good
      • Balancing household and family responsibilities influencing female decisions to work from home (49%) whilst spending time with family encourages males (34%) to go remote
      • 40% of Londoners willing to take a salary cut for permanent home-working whilst South West employees are the least keen on having their salaries reduced

1 September 2021: As employers grapple with return to office scenarios, research reveals over a quarter (27%) of UK workers would accept a pay cut to switch to permanent home working. The news coincides with a record number of job vacancies in May to July being reported by the Office for National Statistics, with HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) pointing to a strong recovery in the labour market[1].

In the wake of recent negative headlines, the survey by Hitachi Capital UK shows office workers are prepared to take an 8% pay cut on average for permanent, full-time home working, with a small few (2%) even prepared to take up to a 20% pay cut.

What’s more, lower salary brackets are driving the trend, with a third of office workers earning less than £40k most likely to take a pay cut to permanently work from home compared to just 20% of earners over £40k.**

Gen Z lead the charge for remote working, with more than a third (39%) wanting a permanent full time working from home solution versus just 16% of millennials, despite 31% missing the socialisation in the office.

Millennials are most likely to consider taking a pay cut (35%), followed by over 55s (25%) and 45–54-year-olds (24%) if it meant the reduction was less than their usual travel spend and there was increased flexibility from their employer.

The ability to balance household and family responsibilities alongside work is driving half of female decisions to work from home (49%) compared to just 37% of men. Conversely, spending time with family is a key incentive for over a third of males (34%) to work remotely compared to 26% of females, reinforcing how employers need to consider how their flexible working policies can positively impact employees with caring and family responsibilities.

Socialising with colleagues is the biggest factor for returning to the office in Scotland (32%), London (28%) and the South East (26%) whilst greater productivity sways the North East (50%), East Midlands (46%) and Wales (46%) to opt for home working.

The research demonstrates a workplace geographical divide, with London (40%) and the Midlands (35%) most willing to take a pay cut to work from home permanently compared to just 13% of office workers in the South West.

Regions most ready to return to the office are Yorkshire and the North East (21%), as the office environment and access to a conventional desk allows increased focus and productivity. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland (37%), West Midlands (35%) and South West (31%) are the strongest supporters of the post-pandemic shift to hybrid working.

Theresa Lindsay, Group Marketing Director at Hitachi Capital UK PLC said:

“The pandemic has led to a seismic shift in the way people want to work in order to effectively manage their work and home life commitments. It’s clear that the majority of employees have adapted very well to remote working whilst actually enhancing productivity.

“Moving forward, our research clearly shows that the clamour for flexible working is so pronounced that many employees are even prepared to sacrifice their salary to achieve a better work-life balance in the long term.

“With bullish GDP forecasts for the UK economy to reach pre-pandemic levels during the fourth quarter of 2021, it’s clear that employers can also seize the opportunity to tap into the wider talent pool which has transpired through greater flexibility- not only to realise their own growth ambitions but which also supports workplace diversity and inclusion.”

The Hitachi Capital UK survey also found:

    • Pure flexible working is the preferred option for most office workers (28%), followed by three days at home, two days at work (22%), whilst a fifth of employees (20%) are wanting to work entirely at home. Meanwhile, just 15% of workers are wanting to return to the office full time.
    • Media (37%) and leisure (32%) industries are the most willing to take a pay cut to work from home permanently whilst those working in finance (29%) and legal (26%) sectors are the least keen to have their salaries slashed.
    • Pure flexibility is the preferred option for marketing (48%) and media (47%) professionals whilst over a quarter of legal (26%) and IT professionals (25%) would rather work 100% from home.
    • Employees earning less than £18k want one extreme or the other, being both the biggest champions of an entirely remote working style (28%) and a sole office-located working week (24%).
      The Hitachi Capital UK survey revealed stark contrasts around the country when answering the following question

‘would you be willing to take a pay cut to work from home permanently.’

    • London (40%)
    • West Midlands (36%)
    • East Midlands (34%)
    • East (28%)
    • Wales (27%)
    • North East (26%)
    • North West (25%)
    • South East (23%)
    • Northern Ireland (21%)
    • Scotland (21%)
    • Yorkshire/Humber (19%)
    • South West (13%)

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/aug/17/uk-unemployment-falls-record-rise-job-vacancies-covid-lockdown-workers

*Survey of 1,000 UK adult office workers aged 18+. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Fly Research. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25 and 27 August 2021.

** Workers earning less than £18k = 27%, workers earning 18-30k = 31%, workers earning 30-40k = 34%