New data shows that flexible work is the next frontier for non-office workers 

Almost half (46%) consider it as important or more important than pay

  • Data shows that flexibility means different things to different people and embracing this is key to attracting and retaining workers amid global talent shortages
  • Only a quarter (24%) of non-office workers have seen increased flexibility since the start of the pandemic, compared to over half (52%) of white collar workers 
  • A third (30%) of these non-office workers value flexibility in terms of their working schedules most highly, followed by flexible working hours (22%)

New data from Randstad, the world’s largest talent company, based on the views of over 7,500 workers in the US, UK, Australia, France and Germany, shows that almost half (46%) of non-office workers consider flexibility at work as important or more important than pay, not far behind their white collar counterparts (54%).

flexibility: the new frontier

The research indicates that flexibility is emerging as the new frontier for people in blue and gray collar roles* - workers who have non-office based roles, such as manufacturing or teaching - as they seek to reap the benefits that the pandemic awarded to those who are office-based. Randstad’s CEO believes this is a chance for employers to seize this opportunity in order to attract and retain workers against the backdrop of global talent shortages. 

Flexibility is often viewed exclusively through the prism of remote work, but the data shows that the concept needs to be understood more broadly.  Non-office workers prioritize flexibility in terms of their working schedules, as a third (30%) value this type of flexibility most highly, with only 16% of white collar workers agreeing. A further quarter of non-office workers (22%) consider flexibility in the number of hours worked as most important, compared to only 9% of those in white collar roles.  

the opportunity for businesses 

Despite this growing demand and business need for flexibility, only a quarter (24%) of non-office workers have seen increased flexibility since the pandemic. This is compared to over half (52%) of white collar office workers, indicating that an equity gap exists between different types of work. 

Offering greater flexibility can also contribute toward improved retention rates, as a third of these workers (30%) said they have quit or changed careers when their demands were not met. Two-fifths (39%) of workers in blue and gray collar roles have taken a sick day to manage personal responsibilities, suggesting that greater flexibility can also lead to improved productivity. 

Sander van ‘t Noordende, CEO of Randstad, commented: “Over the last three years, flexibility at work has moved up the agenda for workers across the globe. Historically there has been a perception that flexible working is not possible for non-office roles, but this view is shifting. Our research found that two fifths of non-office workers (40%) think that flexibility is possible in their line of work.

“For employers, providing flexibility in an equitable way for blue and gray collar workers will have a positive business impact. Businesses need to adopt flexibility with intentionality within their strategies, which means understanding that flexibility means different things to different people. 

“Non-office workers may prioritize flexible working hours or schedules, rather than a remote work policy which may be favored by their white collar colleagues. By embracing and adhering to the demands of all talent it will encourage loyalty, as well as attract new employees to businesses and industries.”

There is also a personal value-add for talent in enjoying extra flexibility at work. When asked about how they’d spend the extra time, workers across the board prioritized time with family and friends, though time to rest was more important to those in blue collar roles:

how talent would spend extra time
how talent would spend extra time

* Blue collar workers  - Blue collar workers are those who perform manual labor, and can be both high and low skilled. They often work in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining or maintenance. 

Gray collar workers - Gray collar workers are those whose jobs incorporate some of the components of blue and white collar jobs, but not all. They often have a job that involves a service or is customer-facing, but are not based in an office. Examples include airline pilots, police officers or teachers. 

White collar workers - White collar workers are found in office settings, often in clerical, administrative or management settings. Examples of white collar roles include finance directors, marketing executives and data entry clerks.

about randstad

Randstad is the world’s largest talent company and a partner of choice to clients. We are committed to providing equitable opportunities to people from all backgrounds and help them remain relevant in the rapidly changing world of work. We have a deep understanding of the labor market and help our clients to create the high-quality, diverse and agile workforces they need to succeed. Our 46,000 employees around the world make a positive impact on society by helping people to realize their true potential throughout their working life. 

Randstad was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands. In 2022, in our 39 markets, we helped more than 2 million people find a job that feels good and advised over 230,000 clients on their talent needs. We generated revenue of €27.6 billion. Randstad N.V. is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam. For more information, see