It’s Official: People Want to Work to Live, Not Live to Work

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Last month at HomeWorkingClub, we conducted a huge survey of our readers.

If you’d like to download the full results of the survey as a free PDF, please click here

In this article, I’m sharing some of the first results. But before we get started, a quick story.

Back in February, two of the team and I were sitting in the office at the end of my garden.

The HomeWorkingClub Office

We’d just recorded the first couple of episodes of the new HomeWorkingClub podcast, and were about to get to work on the opening jingle for it.

We decided on a jingle that said, “we want to help you work to live, not live to work.”

Little did we know, at the time, how much the world was about to change. We certainly didn’t know that five months later, we’d all have experienced a global pandemic.

And we also didn’t know how much our slogan was going to end up aligning with an almost universal aim.

Family First

At the beginning of our survey, we asked respondents to put a number of life priorities in order. We never expected the results to be quite so conclusive:

Career priorities graph

While this doesn’t say that people don’t care about their careers and professional development at all, it makes it abundantly clear that they’re not the things that matter most to the vast majority of people. 

When we started to work through all the survey results, we all said the same thing: “Wouldn’t it be great if we’d asked people this before Covid-19 as well?” Sadly we didn’t, but it seems reasonable to assume the results would have been at least slightly different.

If one good thing has come out of this crisis, it’s that people have been forced to really reflect on what’s important. 

There’s another interesting finding from this particular question that’s slightly less obvious:

As I watched the responses piling in, “Money” and “Personal Development” kept jostling for third place. I was pleased when the latter just edged it. The order of priorities we ended up with just seems…right somehow. 

And it’s also something companies could learn a lot from. 

To attract the best talent, businesses really need to understand what people find important in this new normal. I would argue that remote first companies were already several steps ahead on this long before Covid-19. 

The Benefits of Remote Working and Freelancing

Responses around the best things about remote working and freelancing only serve to reinforce the argument above:

Best things about remote work and freelancing

Obviously priorities don’t quite align here, because remote working for a single company is very different to making your own way in the freelance world. But look at the very bottom of the graphs. The days when career was everything to people seem to be long gone, with both freelancers and remote workers caring much more about family, flexibility and mental health. 

(Note: We did also ask about the bad points, but that’s for a separate article. If you can’t wait, download the full survey white paper here.)

People Are Willing to Take Action

It’s one thing to have these priorities, but are people prepared to get what they need?

Our survey results seem to conclusively prove that they are:

Survey Statistics Graphs

A few quick take-aways from this part of the survey:

  • 52% of people plan to start a second job or a side-gig to get the working life they want. 
  • 37.8% of respondents who don’t currently work remotely plan to change their career plan to do so so they can (in the next year). 
  • 29% will seek to change employer so they can work from home. 

The key point here is that people are willing to take action. If you’re one of them, you may well find one of these articles helpful:

The findings in this article truly serve to prove the initial point: people want to work to live, not live to work. 

Our survey covered many other issues, and there are two more articles planned that will reveal our findings. If you can’t wait:

Click here to download our survey white paper

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