Would You Trade a Raise for a More Flexible Schedule? Lots Of People Say "Yes"
As the old saying goes, time is money: so there's nothing better than getting a raise at work — unless you'd just rather have some of your time back, instead. Indeed, a new poll conducted by Unify (a communications company) shows that almost half of workers would choose scheduling flexibility over a raise in pay. Additionally, one third of workers polled said they wanted more flexible schedules so badly that they would consider changing jobs to secure them. Rigid and bureaucratic employers, beware!
While the survey's results are plenty interesting as-is, I do wish that they had been publicized to include gender breakdowns. That could have given insight into a common defense of the gender "wage gap:" that women are allegedly, and in part, paid less than men because women have a stronger preference for more flexible jobs with more free time, which can translate into working fewer hours.
If this most recent polling data had broken down flexibility preferences by gender, we might have been able to tell whether women are getting screwed in terms of money and flexibility, or whether they're trading one for the other. In any case, because it helpfully pitted pay against flexibility, the larger lesson to draw from Unify's new poll is that jobs are bundles of responsibilities and benefits which vary along many dimensions: financial compensation, flexibility, prestige, risk, unpleasantness, stability, and so on. Wanting more flexibility — perhaps at the expense of financial compensation or opportunity for promotion — is totally reasonable, and apparently quite common.
I don't know about making workplace flexibility literally an "employee's right," though — which the poll-taking organization's predictions suggest will happen as a result of the sociocultural "Flex Work Imperative" they've identified. After all, legislation requiring employers to provide flexible schedules would limit the mix of job characteristics an employee could accept. Reliable employees who do work fixed hours are a boon to many types of businesses, and it's fair for those businesses to pay extra for non-flexible workers.
For the rest of us who'd very much like an occasional afternoon off, it's also arguably fair that we miss out on other means of compensation. Flexible work schedules just mean that you're partially being paid in flexibility and convenience — which certainly aren't nothing, or people wouldn't want them.