Despite warnings that working from home will be detrimental to young people’s careers, young people themselves are particularly likely to feel that remote working has benefits that could help their career progression, according to new research.

The Policy Institute at King’s College London and King’s Business School surveyed over 2,000 people with a workplace in London. They found that, among London workers who work from home at least one day a week:

  • 40% of those aged 16 to 24 say it’s easier to put themselves forward for important tasks when working with colleagues remotely rather than in-person – compared with 25% of 25- to 49-year-olds and 13% of those aged 50 and above who say the same.
  • 45% of those aged 16 to 24 say remote working has made it easier for them to ask questions on things they’re unsure about – roughly double the proportion of 25- to 49-year-olds (24%) and three times the proportion of those aged 50 and above (14%) who also feel this way.
  • 8% of those aged 50+ say remote working makes it easier to build rapport with colleagues, but this rises to 21% among 16- to 24-year-olds.

Around half of London’s hybrid workers (47%) and those who work from home all of the time (53%) say they now feel better able to do their job well than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic began – more than double the proportion (21%) who feel this way among those who commute to their workplace in the capital every day of the week.

Similarly, 63% of hybrid and 60% of home-only workers in the capital say they feel a greater sense of freedom at work now than they did before the pandemic. This compares with 24% among those who are in their London workplace full-time.

And 82% of London workers who work from home at least a day a week and feel positive about doing so say it has increased their level of control over their work-life balance, including 52% who say it has greatly increased it.

65% of London workers in organisations of two or more people say they would look for a new job if their employer made them follow a work pattern they didn’t like, while 9% say they wouldn’t. However, those who work from home at least a day a week are generally willing to travel to their workplace for a specific task or event, such as a presentation or client meeting. Six in 10 (59%) say they’d feel positive about doing so, compared with around one in 10 (11%) who say they’d feel negative.

Among London workers in organisations of two or more employees, most trust their employers to keep their wellbeing in mind (58%), treat people fairly (57%) and keep their promises (53%) when planning employees’ return to their workplace or making decisions about future working patterns.

Looking ahead, around half (47%) of London workers feel that in the next few years future working patterns in the capital will be decided through a compromise between employee and employer preferences. This compares with a quarter (26%) who think it will mainly be employers that decide, and a fifth (20%) who say employees will have most responsibility for such decisions.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said:

A key concern for many business leaders is how our new hybrid way of working will affect the development of younger staff just starting out in their careers. Development often comes from observing others, and opportunities from chance connections made when people get together. But our study shows that younger workers don’t share these concerns to the same extent as older workers.

This could be because younger workers don’t realise what they’re missing – but it could also be that older workers are stuck with an outdated view of how development can happen. Younger workers are more likely to see the positive potential in how the use of technology can flatten hierarchies to allow them to ask questions, put themselves forward and build connections. But concerns do remain among both old and young about what we might lose, so, as with hybrid working generally, the task for leaders is to focus on extracting the best from both ways of working.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.