Special Survey

2024 Survey Reveals UK Office Workers' Preferences and Attitudes Towards Work Environments

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Richard Smith

CEO & Founder

Attitudes towards work environments have undoubtedly changed over the past few years, as the Covid-19 pandemic made a significant impact on the traditional pattern of 9 to 5 office working.

To assess where general opinions are sitting in 2024, Office Freedom has surveyed workers across the UK to determine what attitudes towards work environments are at present, including where people are working, how often they are attending an office in person, as well as the ideal working arrangements they’d prefer.

The data has offered up some unique insights, including an interesting glimpse at how attitudes differ across age and gender categories.

While working from home may have boomed in recent years, the survey found that working full time from an office is still the most common working arrangement despite increased flexibility options for many.

The research found that almost two thirds (61.4%) work at least some of the time in an office environment, with the majority (36.6%) spending 100% of their time working in an office. Meanwhile, 19.3% have a 75/25 split between the office and elsewhere, while 18.4% spend all of their working time out of a traditional office.

Which of the following best describes your working environment?

It’s fair to say that many traditional private offices have become less prominent amid the emergence of co-working spaces which may help cater to the needs of smaller businesses or places of work that offer more remote working options. However, a private space is still the frontrunner for those across the UK (30.6%), then a co-working space (25.7%), closely followed by a private office with a co-working space (23.9%).

A hub office came in fourth (12.2%), while 7.7% of respondents opted for ‘other’.

Types of office respondents work in - Image

When outlining the benefits of a co-working space, almost a third believed the sense of community (32.6%) was a primary benefit, putting it ahead of options like it being more sociable than a private office (28.6%), and a shared space being a more relaxed environment (25.1%).

Other sought after benefits included greater networking opportunities (22.95%) and flexible working options (22.55%).

Benefits of Co-Working Spaces - Image

It also turns out that a slight majority have a preference for working in an office. Of respondents who work full-time or part-time, 52.1% agreed they preferred working in an office than from home, while 21.5% disagreed and 26.4% neither agreed nor disagreed.

Do People Prefer Working from Home - Image

Interestingly, when looking at a geographical breakdown of respondents, there were some places that agreed with the statement more than others.

Topping the list was Liverpool at almost 66%, it can’t be said this was an opinion solely held further up north as south coast city Southampton followed in second with 61.9%. Meanwhile, Newcastle (60.9%) rounded out the top three.

As for those cities less likely to agree with the statement, Nottingham was found to be the least enthusiastic about working in the office at 34.9%, with Brighton slightly behind at 40.1%, then Leeds with (43.3%).

Do People Prefer Working from Home? - Image 2

However, of people who don’t spend all their time in an office environment, the majority declared that they find themselves to be more productive at home (42.1%) than the office (27.5%).

Elsewhere, 15.8% said they didn’t find themselves more productive in either, narrowly beating the 14.6% who opined that they were equally productive in both the home and office.

Of those surveyed who believe themselves to be more productive in an office, helping to separate home life and work life (42.3%) was selected as the primary reason. While in joint second place came ‘more productive when in an office environment’ and ‘prefer in-person contact with team members’, both at home and office (34.01%).

Benefits of Working from an Office - Image

There were some strong opinions when it came to being questioned on whether respondents agreed or disagreed with the statement: 'employees should be made to work from the office 4/5 days a week again.

Over 40% agreed with the statement compared with the 25% who disagreed and the 32.1% who neither agreed nor disagreed.

A gender split emerged among respondents who agreed, as more men (48.1%) said workers should be made to spend the majority of their working week compared to women (37.4%), marking over a 10% difference.

Should Employees Be Made to Work from the Office? - Image

But being made to come into an office wouldn’t sit well with the majority of respondents, the survey also discovered. When asked their response to the statement: ‘Being told to come into the office five days a week again would make me quit my job', almost half agreed at 48.2%.

The minority disagreed with the statement (24.4%) while 27.5% neither agreed nor disagreed.

Workplace perks have become more of a draw for potential employees as businesses offer up attractive benefits to workers. The survey looked at attitudes towards these, as it asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: ‘I think employers should be offering perks to encourage workers into the office more each week?’.

Under half (49.7%) agreed with the statement, while 17.17% disagreed and 33.2% neither agreed nor disagreed.

A clear correlation between age and opinion showed up, with the youngest age bracket overwhelmingly believing employers should be offering perks to workers to encourage office attendance.

It’s not surprising people would like the option of being able to work from home as well as an office, but that almost half of respondents would be willing to quit their jobs is a testament to how hybrid working is strongly sought after.
Should Employees Be Made to Work from the Office? - Image 2

A staggering 70% of respondents in the 18-24 bracket agreed, in stark contrast to 33.5% of those in the older 55+ category.

When it came down to the most popular perks that could be offered to entice workers into the office, it found that early finishes came out on top with almost half of respondents (49.5%) plumping for the option.

Subsidised lunches came in second (39.2%), with subsidised travel in third (38.8%) and Flexibility around hours for childcare in fourth (36.4%).

More social events (24.6%) ranked fifth, while 22% were after guaranteed desk space in fifth closely followed up by subsidised gym passes at 18.2%.

Top Office Perks for Employee Encouragement - Image

Richard Smith, Founder and CEO of Office Freedom, says: “Attitudes toward working environments have transformed over the past few years as working from home has become much more a reality for many office workers in a way it wasn’t pre-pandemic.

It’s not surprising people would like the option of being able to work from home as well as an office, but that almost half of respondents would be willing to quit their jobs is a testament to how hybrid working is strongly sought after.

It’s interesting to see that younger workers believe perks should be offered by employees, as it shows a clear attitude difference across the generations and emphasises the complete overhaul in the way we work over the past few years.”