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Hybrid working could boost social mobility


A survey by BDO showed that mixing remote and office work appeals more to young people from low socio-economic backgrounds writes Patrick Dunne in Accountancy Today.

The option of hybrid working – mixing remote and office-based work –  appeals more to young people from low socio-economic backgrounds than those that aren’t, according to a survey of 1,000 people aged between 16-21 by accountancy firm BDO.

More than a third (37%) of those surveyed and considered to be from a disadvantaged background believe hybrid working would give them a better work-life balance, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of young people from other backgrounds.

When asked about the additional benefits hybrid working could bring, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds scored the ability to save money on commuting more highly than 16-21 year olds from non-disadvantaged backgrounds. A quarter (23%) stated it would also better support their care responsibilities including looking after children or other dependents.

Research by the Social Mobility Commission last year found that those from more affluent upbringings are more likely to move to study or work, meaning better-paid jobs are often less accessible to those from poorer backgrounds.

However, with many citing less reliance on ‘unreliable and expensive travel’ five days a week, 26% of the young people from disadvantaged backgrounds said hybrid working would make them more likely to apply for jobs further away from home.

Sarah Hillary, partner at BDO commented: “Some of the benefits of hybrid working have been widely discussed, but the appeal to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and the potential impact on social mobility should not be overlooked.

“If changing working practices can help reach young people in social mobility cold spots, businesses and government should be seizing the opportunity to improve access and opportunity for young people in these areas.”

She added: “The post-pandemic recovery provides an opportunity to ‘build back fairer’ and develop policies that will create a more inclusive and mobile society. We should urge the Government to put as much focus on investment in people as it does on infrastructure as part of its levelling up agenda.”