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Flexible Working Index December: What Job Hunters Are Looking For

12th Jan 2023

The latest Flexible Working Index has analysed 12 months of data from Flexa Careers, the global directory for verified flexible companies, to track working preferences over the last year.

This involved analysing a landmark sample of over 7,000 job adverts and over 230,000 job searches, as well as the preferences expressed by over 9,700 job seekers as to exactly where, when and how they wanted to work in 2022. 

Workers wanted more choice over location in 2022

‘Remote-first’ roles - where staff spend most of their time working remotely, with the added option to use an office - have grown in popularity over the last year. ‘Fully remote’ roles have become less popular. 

Between January 2022 and December 2022, the number of job seekers expressing a preference for ‘remote first’ roles more than tripled - rising from 9% to 31% to all workers, a jump of 244%.

During 2022, job searches for ‘fully-remote’ roles fell by 33% - down from 76% of all job seekers in January to 51% in December. There was a 76% spike in searches for fully-remote roles between November and December, however (up from 29% to 51%), as job seekers perhaps looked to escape January blues.

‘Work from anywhere’ schemes became more popular. The number of job seekers keen to explore jobs with a ‘work from anywhere’ policy peaked in March 2022 - with 81% of job seekers including it in their search preferences. Overall, however, demand remained high throughout the year, with the number of workers looking at jobs where they can ‘work from anywhere’ almost doubling during 2022, from 42% of all job seekers to 81% - a rise of 93% between January and December 2022. 

Employers answered by offering ‘freedom within a framework’ 

To balance the needs of businesses against the needs of staff, employers answered demand for flexibility by offering more freedom within a clearer framework. 

The number of job posts offering 3-4 WFH days per week (so-called ‘hybrid working’) increased by 69% over the course of 2022 - up from 36% of all jobs advertised in January to 61% by December. 

By contrast, the number of ‘fully-remote’ roles being advertised in 2022 fell by 67% between January and December (down from 18% to 6%), reflecting the shift in employees’ preferences, and the desire from employers to have teams meet in person more regularly. 

Overall, the number of ‘remote-first’ roles being advertised also dropped by 42% last year (from 33% to 19%), despite a huge surge in demand from job seekers.

‘Fully flexible’ working hours swayed employers

Preferences for roles with ‘fully flexible’ working hours increased by 23% in 2022 - rising from 22% in January, to hit peak popularity in December, with 27% of all job seekers looking for roles with flexibility over timings. During each month of 2022, the Index tracked a rise in job seekers expressing a preference for fully flexible hours.

The number of roles advertising only ‘a little flexibility’ declined sharply over the course of the year, falling from 58% to 36% of all roles advertised - a drop of 38%. 

Roles offering ‘core hours’ (whereby staff must work during certain times, e.g. 11am-3pm, but are given flexibility outside of that) have seen the biggest increase since the start of the year. In 2022, jobs advertised as having core hours shot up by a huge 94% (from 16% to 31%). September saw the biggest spike, with 54% of all available roles offering core hours in a bid to attract parents looking to fit work around school runs. 

Roles offering fully flexible hours saw a more gradual increase of 41% (up from 22% to 31%).

Part-time and job-sharing roles became far more popular 

Preferences for part-time roles have almost doubled (up by 92% overall) since the start of the year. In January, 26% of workers said that they would prefer part-time work. This rose to 1 in 2 workers by December.

Job-sharing roles also became more popular in 2022. The number of job seekers expressing a preference for job sharing increased by 40% - up from 10% to 14%. 

Demand for both part-time and job-sharing roles first spiked in March as the cost of living crisis started to bite and has grown in line with the trend for workers ‘unretiring’ to shore up finances.

2022 Flexible Working Overview

Molly Johnson-Jones, co-founder and CEO of Flexa Careers, comments: 

“The number of job seekers looking for flexible roles has grown exponentially since the start of the year. Combine this demand with an ever-tightening labour market, and it’s no wonder that we’ve seen ways of working evolve rapidly in 2022. 

“Workers have made it clear that, in an ideal world, they’d like fully-flexible hours. Many would also like the option to work from home, or an office, as well as a different country. But there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to ways of working. Letting workers choose their own hours, for example, isn’t necessarily feasible for all businesses, either. The solution is to carve out more choices for staff. Enter: ‘freedom within a framework’.

“Vague terms like ‘hybrid’ work and ‘flexible hours’ are gradually being replaced by offers of specified ‘core hours’, and a set number of work-from-home days per week. This is allowing companies to offer talent the greater flexibility they’re looking for, whilst providing a transparent and clearer picture of how this will work in practice, as well as maintaining company cultures and structures. This is the foundation for thriving businesses and thriving teams. And I’m excited to see what 2023 holds for all who embrace this evolved style of flexible work.”

Full Flexible Working Data