What do candidates want when it comes to flexible hours?

15th Feb 2024

There are many different types of flexibility that candidates look for in their job search, and flexible hours is one that gets a little less spotlight than location. 

However, supply and demand are pretty well matched in this area. Which means two things:

  1. Companies are more able and willing to match this candidate demand 
  2. Companies are under utilising this factor of flexibility in their Employer Branding and talent attraction.

What do candidates actually want in regards to flexible hours?

We collect and analyse data from 350,000+ search results a month, and have mapped the working preferences of over 2 million candidates. 

This is what we found: 

40.2% of candidates have a strong preference on working hours. 

24.4% of candidates are looking for fully flexible working hours. This means no restrictions on the times you complete your work and therefore a preference for an asynchronous culture. 

14% of candidates are looking for ‘a little flex’. What this means is that employees have the ability to start or finish a little earlier or later than the traditional 9-6 working day - to go to the gym, look after their children, or fulfil other commitments. 

And 9.7% of candidates are searching for companies who offer core hours. This is where teams work together during set time periods (eg. 11-4), but are able to choose when to finish the rest of their tasks outside of that timeframe. This option is a newer, lesser known type of flexibility which may account for the lower demand. 


How does the demand stack up against the supply?  

Now, let’s look at what companies are offering on Flexa. This is one of the dimensions of flexibility where the supply largely matches the demand. 

Overall 77.8% of companies on Flexa are able to offer some form of flexibility in working hours. 

This is in stark contrast to demand vs. supply in location preferences where 52.4% of candidates are looking for remote roles, and only 3.5% of companies are offering this working setup. 

But back to the companies offering flexible working hours: 

21.3% of companies on Flexa have fully flexible working hours, which very closely matches the candidate demand. 

29.8% offer ‘a little flex’ which is a brilliant setup, especially for those with childcare or other caring needs.

And 26.7% offer core hours - an interesting and increasingly popular set up that blends the best of synchronous collaboration with asynchronous focus time. 

What can we take away from this data?  

Progress to equality and the normalisation of flexibility 

Flexibility has long been associated with working mothers. Which puts both working mothers and flexibility into a corner. 

When flexible hours were primarily associated with working mothers needing to work differently to balance the demands of work and home these women were ‘othered’ and thought of as being unable to conform to regular working hours. 

There’s no doubt that this had an impact on hiring patterns and promotion patterns of women. 

Now that we are seeing a more equal demand from both men and women for flexible hours this normalises flexibility as something for everyone, which in turn helps fuel progress towards equality where women aren’t overlooked for jobs because of a need for more flexibility. 

Chronoworking is growing in popularity, and can benefit employers and employees 

Chronoworking means working to a pattern and rhythm that suits you best to increase productivity and job satisfaction. For some this means taking advantage of early starts when they are most alert, and for others sleeping later and finishing after the sun sets. 

The true benefit of this is increased productivity and focus at work. Chronoworking enables employees to structure their day to maximise their energy and productivity, prioritising different types of tasks (eg. collaboration, deep work, administrative work) at the times where their energy best matches the work at hand. 

Overall, it’s great to see alignment between companies and candidates

It’s great to see an area of flexibility where candidates and companies are aligned. We strongly believe that alignment of expectations and results is key to the future of flexible working. 

This alignment takes work. Companies have to adapt their policies, processes, and practices to a new way of working, and candidates might not always be able to get everything on their checklist. But finding common ground in any facet of flexibility is a great step forward for flexible working overall.