Study: Under 20% of UK seniors given chance to work from home

New study finds that while over 40% of young workers are given the chance to work from home, less than half of that percentage of senior workers are given the same opportunity.

Financial services provider Novuna has shed light on an unexpected bias impacting working across the United Kingdom: older workers are not being given as much opportunity to work from home as their younger counterparts are. 

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Young workers have more than double the opportunity to work from home than older workers do. (Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels)

The group surveyed some 2,000 adults in the UK between October 31 and November 3, 2023, then weighted the results to be nationally representative. 

It found that employees ages 18-34 tend to be permitted to work remotely most often, with 44% of people in that age group saying their employer had given them the opportunity to work remotely.

The percentage of employees older than that who had been permitted to work from home dropped dramatically. Of those aged 35-54, only 23% had been given the chance. And that figure was even lower for the most senior employees.

Of UK workers aged 55 and older, just 17% said their employer has ever allowed them to work from home, possibly revealing unintended bias in remote work opportunities.

➡️ Related: Our Top Picks Of The 5 Best Remote Jobs For Seniors In The UK


Seniors thrive in remote work environments

The irony of this study’s findings is that other research found seniors to be the demographic who most want to work from home exclusively. 

Around the same time Novuna was conducting this study, Irish remote HR company Boundless found, “Individuals aged 55 and over are the most likely to prefer exclusive remote work, with almost a third expressing this preference.”

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Research suggests seniors thrive in remote work settings. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels)

Novuna came to a similar conclusion, noting, “Having often spent the majority of their careers in traditional office settings, the older generation may particularly appreciate the flexibility and change that remote work offers, in contrast to younger workers who may have had exposure to such flexibility earlier in their careers.”

It also found that 48% of respondents over age 55 said working from home has a positive impact on their wellbeing, and cited this as their primary reason for wanting remote work.


Career tenure may make a difference

The results of Novuna’s study could potentially reveal unintentional bias surrounding seniors and remote work.

However, the firm also noted that many seniors happen to be in management or other executive positions at their respective companies. 

There may be more of an expectation for managers or similar senior positions to maintain a physical presence at the office at least partially than for entry-level positions, which tend to be occupied by young employees who are just entering the workforce. 

Nonetheless, Novuna urged: “This sense of gratitude and newfound work-life balance for older employees reinforces the need for employers to thoughtfully consider extending remote work opportunities to all age groups, ensuring a holistic approach to employee wellbeing and job satisfaction.”

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