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More Than Half of Australian Workers Prefer Hybrid Schedules; Nearly 40% Would Consider Quitting If Not Given the Choice, Emburse Survey Finds

Data reveals what office workers want most in the post-pandemic workplace; four-day workweek voted top incentive for returning to the office full time

SYDNEY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Australians are eager to see their workmates, but not for the whole week, according to a survey conducted by Emburse, a global leader in spend management solutions. The research aimed to better understand what office-based employees want most in the post-pandemic workplace.

Just 29% wanted to stay on a fully-remote schedule, although only 17% would like to return to the office full time. What would encourage them to do it? Getting a three-day weekend, and lunch on the company topped the list. Almost 65% said that they’d be happy to work in-office on a Wednesday, which was more than double the 31% willing to come in on Fridays.

Survey respondents were office-based before COVID, and the data revealed an interesting shift in their working preferences. The divide was split even further by age group. While the overall majority of those surveyed would prefer a hybrid working schedule, given the choice, it was most desired by the youngest workers – those aged 18-34 (62%). Remote work was the top choice among 35-54-year-olds (33%), while those aged 55-64 favored being in the office full time (31%).

Key findings:

Choice still limited

Base: 403 office workers

Just 39% of employers give their employees a choice of remote, hybrid or in-office.

  • 35% are required to be in the office every day
  • 7% have been transitioned to fully-remote
  • Just 11% have made the choice to work at home every day

The new 9-5

Base: 403 office workers

Office workers prefer hybrid schedules, but also want a say in the matter.

  • If given the choice, 55% of respondents would prefer a hybrid work schedule, while 29% opted for remote. Only 17% of workers want to be in the office full time.
  • More women than men would prefer to be in the office, with 56% of female respondents choosing hybrid work compared to men (51%).
  • Nearly 40% would consider looking for a new role if not given the choice between being in the office full-time, remote or hybrid.

Best incentives to lure workers back to the office full time

Base: 403 office workers

When asked to rank, in order of preference, the most attractive incentives to working in the office full-time, respondents were united in their top and bottom choices.

  • The best incentive for returning to the office full-time was a four-day workweek – voted number one by 33% of those surveyed.

    • Highly popular among all age groups, Gen X (ages 45-54) was the biggest champion of the four-day workweek, with 47% voting it as their top choice.
  • Free lunch in the office workplace and a fully-paid commute tied for second (17% each).

    • Gen Z (18-24-year-olds) voted for free lunch as their top choice (22%).
    • Paid commute was most favored by 55-64-year-olds (28%).
  • By far, the least desired incentive was paid childcare – voted last by 43% of respondents.

    • Though it overwhelmingly was voted at the bottom for incentives, paid childcare was least preferred by workers aged 45-64 (68%).
  • Other options included more paid holidays (11%) and the ability to submit lunch expenses for reimbursement (6%).

In comparison, a recent YouGov poll from Emburse showed that over two-thirds of British office workers would opt for a fully-paid commute.

Preferred day to be in the office

Base: 403 office workers

Like their British colleagues, Australian workers said they were more likely to come into the office mid-week, preferably on Wednesdays.

  • Monday: 38%
  • Tuesday: 59%
  • Wednesday: 65%
  • Thursday: 54%
  • Friday: 31%
  • None: 12%

Additional insights:

Top reasons to come into work

Base: 403 office workers

Survey respondents selected the activities that would make them likely to come into the office.

  • Team meetings pulled ahead as the top reason workers would want to come into the office (62%).
  • Close behind were client meetings (49%) and brainstorming or creative meetings (48%).

Concerns in the new world of work

Base: 403 office workers

Proximity bias was a concern for career development, and IT issues appear to be top of mind for all.

  • 41% percent of those surveyed said they would worry that their boss might overlook their career development if they weren’t in the office.
  • For their top concerns about working remotely and in the office, IT issues ranked number one for both (38% and 29%, respectively).

A panel of 403 Australians, who were office-based before COVID, were asked questions about their preferences for returning to the office and the future of work.

Sarah Dart, Senior Director at Emburse, commented:

“Like much of what we’re seeing through the Great Reshuffle, workers of today are wanting more freedom and flexibility in their lives. Companies must aim to meet these needs by humanising work and becoming more employee-centric. Offering the ability for workers to have the human connection that they missed out on during the pandemic while working collaboratively is good for them and the business. We’ve seen from data that in-person interactions are far more productive than audio or video meetings, so achieving this within a hybrid or four-day workweek is a win for everyone."

She continued: "With fewer days in the office, much more attention should be paid to efficiency and ensuring simple tasks can be done quicker. Look to automation and solutions that can help speed up processes for tasks like accounts payables and reimbursements, so employees can spend their time in the office focused on the tasks at hand and what matters most.”

About Emburse

Emburse is a modern spend management company offering solutions that revolutionise the way organisations manage employee expenses, process invoices and make payments. Emburse humanises work by empowering business travelers, finance professionals, and CFOs to eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks, so they can focus on what matters most.

Its innovative offerings, which are tailored to meet the unique business needs of specific industries, company sizes, and geographies, are trusted by more than 12 million users in more than 120 countries. Over 18,000 customers, from start-ups to global enterprises, including Bosch, Grant Thornton, Hall & Wilcox, Buddle Findlay, and Toyota, rely on Emburse to make faster, smarter decisions, improve compliance, and optimise spend -- making corporate spend deliver meaningful value for the organisation.

Emburse is recognised as a leader in expense management and accounts payable automation by analyst firm IDC, and has received multiple awards for innovation and its high levels of customer satisfaction. For more information on Emburse, visit emburse.com, call +61 2 9331 6809, or follow the organisation’s social channels at @emburse.


Katie Garlock

[email protected]

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