4-day weeks and hybrid work could unite workplaces in 2024, study reveals

Flexa, the platform known for connecting flexible companies, has released its latest Flexible Working Index, analysing data from 2023 to forecast significant work trends for 2024.

Flexa's comprehensive year-end report was compiled from an analysis of a record 9,300 job adverts, 2.8 million job searches, and preferences from over 27,000 job seekers, collected from January to November 2023.

The report reveals a shift toward shorter working weeks in 2023. Initially, half of the workers preferred part-time work, but by November, this figure dropped to 37%. Moreover, demand for a 4-day working week has been steady since Flexa began tracking it in April, with around 48% of job seekers favoring it by November.

Mars, CoppaFeel, and Huel are among the companies open to part-time job applicants, reflecting this trend. Notably, 92% of companies in the UK's 4-day week trial chose to make it permanent, citing benefits like reduced sick leave and burnout.

Another key finding is the growing need for mental health support at work. In 2023, 31% of workers, on average, sought jobs offering mental health support, a 16% increase from the previous year. Employers like TUI Group, WeTransfer, and Wild are responding with initiatives like mental health days and wellbeing allowances.

The report also shows a shift in worker priorities from when they work to where they work. While 52% of workers were indifferent to flexible hours, there was a significant preference for flexible working locations. Job searches for fully remote roles dominated, though interest decreased by 28% from January to November. In contrast, demand for "work from anywhere" schemes surged by 583%.

Despite the preference for full remote work, employers leaned towards hybrid models. In 2023, job posts advertising 3-4 WFH days per week were most common. This trend suggests hybrid work could be a compromise solution in the ongoing office-WFH debate.

Companies like Virgin Media O2, Not On The High Street, and Moneysupermarket Group are embracing this approach, offering roles with significant WFH flexibility.

Molly Johnson-Jones, CEO and Co-founder of Flexa, remarked: "Workers in 2023 clearly sought flexibility, as evidenced by the 2.8 million job searches for flexible roles. However, employers don't need to offer every type of flexibility.

“Companies are realising that broad forms of flexibility, or 'umbrella flexibility', can address various workers' needs simultaneously. For example, hybrid work can cater to both employees with health conditions and parents needing to manage school runs, reducing the demand for early start and finish times. Similarly, 4-day weeks provide a better-paid alternative to part-time roles while enhancing work-life balance and wellbeing.

“The key message for employers in 2024 is to focus on their teams' overarching needs and consider what comprehensive flexibility they can realistically offer to meet as many of these needs as possible."