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Wednesday 14 September 2022

FDA polling highlights benefits of flexible working

The FDA has published the results of polling we commissioned from Public First. The polling forms part of our ongoing project looking at flexible working led by our summer intern, Euan Stock. The union will be launching the full report later in the autumn, but the polling raised a number of interesting issues.

Our polling was comprised of two main strands. Firstly, a poll of a nationally representative sample of 2009 adults in the UK, and secondly, a poll of a representative sample of 542 red wall voters. 

49% of respondents worked from home at least on occasion, and among ‘red wall’ respondents, this rises to          53%.

66% of those who do work from home said they find it easier to focus compared to the office, and 62% said            they were more productive.

69% said working from home had a positive impact on their wellbeing.

While people were more likely to respond to emails out of work hours, 74% reported an improved work-life            balance when home working.

On the specific question of civil servants returning to the office, 72% of respondents agreed that there are              larger issues in government than where civil servants are based, with 51% saying they did not personally                  care where civil servants work, rising to 77% and 53% respectively among red wall respondents.

You can view the full results of the polling here.
Responding to the findings, the FDA’s General Secretary, Dave Penman said:

“It is clear that, across the economy, many employers have recognised the benefits of offering greater flexibility, with this quiet industrial revolution seeing almost half of workers working at least of some the time from home.”

Speaking to the Times, Penman argued that “rather than standing in the way of progress like Luddites, ministers should embrace this opportunity to save taxpayers’ money, as well as improve then working lives of our dedicated public servants.”
The FDA continues to recognise the enduring collaborative benefits of office working. However, the results of our polling shows that many workers across the country and economy believe they can be just as, if not more, productive when working from home. 

In a message to FDA members, Penman called for the government to ensure that “the civil service has a competitive advantage in a tight labour market by offering market-leading flexible working” and to recognise that the issue was not a priority for voters:

“Our polling also highlights that ministers’ culture war against civil servants working flexibly from home simply is not a priority for the public, and the government should be fully focussed on the challenges of war on the European mainland and the cost-of-living crisis. Rather than counting civil servants at desks in offices, the new Prime Minister and government should finally acknowledge the benefits of flexible working for employees, employers and the taxpayer.”
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