The number of people working regularly from home has increased by more than 800,000 since 2005, according to analysis by the TUC.
The findings, published last week to mark the tenth National Work from Home Day, bring the total number of homeworkers to 4,218,699. Although the total number of people in employment has increased during the past decade, this has been outstripped by the growth in homeworking, which has increased from 12.0 per cent of the workforce in 2005 to 13.7 per cent in 2015.
Using figures from the government’s official Work-Life Balance Survey 2013 and the ONS Labour Force Survey, the TUC estimates that a further 1.8 million people would like to work from home.
Although the south east has the most homeworkers, London has seen the greatest growth during the past decade (193,859), while the south west has the highest percentage of homeworkers (18.3 per cent). At the other end of the scale, homeworking in Northern Ireland has dropped by 10,000 in the past ten years, down to 74,000, and there has been negligible growth in Wales.
The findings also show that homeworking is disproportionately taken up by men (62.8 per cent), partly because they outnumber women in self-employment, where more than two-thirds of workers are men.
Homeworking is less common in the public sector, with just 8.0 per cent in health and 7.1 per cent in education working from home for example; while the information and communications industry has above average homeworking (17.7 per cent). Other white collar industries like the professional, scientific and technical sector as well as real estate also have a high percentage of homeworkers at 16 per cent and 14.4 per cent respectively. In contrast, only 7.0 per cent of retail staff work from home.
The ability to work from home is also strongly associated with occupational seniority, with one in five managers working from home (20.1 per cent) compared to about one in fifteen workers in the elementary occupations (6.7 per cent).
Recent US research found that home workers generated an extra day’s worth of work each week compared to those working in the office.
Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors commented “The figures demonstrate that there are millions of workers now taking advantage of more flexible homeworking arrangements where employers are prepared to agree to them. The TUC analysis however estimates that a further 1.8 million workers would like to work from home but are not currently able to do so. If employers want to attract and retain the best people, a flexible approach to working arrangements is likely to be a key way of facilitating that. It is in the interests of any employer to give due consideration to making such arrangements work effectively, if at all possible.”
More information about National Work from Home Day is available at http://www.workwiseuk.org/.