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Working from home

Iain Henderson

Faculty Blog

That sounds ideal to many of us – no commuting, no boss looking over our shoulder all the time.

And indeed in the UK it seems more and more people are doing it. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported this week that the number of home workers in Great Britain has reached record levels at 4.2 million. You can read the article here.

Apparently home workers now account for 14 per cent of the workforce up from 11 per cent (2.9 million) in 1998 when comparable records began (Office for National Statistics).

Why? Well developments in technology have allowed more people to work from home, while dissatisfaction with long (and expensive commutes) has also made it a more attractive option.

The data also showed that home workers were more likely to hold highly skilled roles with 15 per cent working as managers or senior officials, 35 per cent held professional or associate professional posts and 23.5 per cent in skilled trades.

However, John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, said that although home working in the UK has risen to a record high, the practice “has not grown as dramatically as ‘future of work’ gurus regularly predict”.

But not everyone who would like to work from home is given that opportunity said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. “Too many bosses still don’t trust staff to work from home and instead force them to trudge into the office so they can keep an eye on them. Employers’ attitudes to new working practices must change to make a much better use of modern technology in all workplaces.”

This suggests some questions for managers:

• Would you trust your staff to work from home?

• Why has home working not grown as dramatically as these richly-paid ‘future of work’ gurus predicted? Maybe people would miss the social side of work? Or perhaps they fear they would miss out on those vital office politics?