Report

Working from Home in UK – Major contributors include technological advancements and the world’s ageing population

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown a sharp spotlight on homeworking, as many organisations and their employees turn to this as a way to maintain operations at this time. Current circumstances aside, enabling employees to work from home has many benefits. As a key component of flexible working, it helps organisations attract top talent, increase diversity and improve employee well-being. Remote working supports business continuity, allowing an agile response to unexpected challenges.

In the past two decades, the number of people working mainly from home has increased significantly. Major contributors to this shift include technological advancements – the transition to digital has enabled more flexible ways of working – and the world’s ageing population. Studies have shown that older workers are more likely to work exclusively from home.

However, there remain cultural and practical barriers to the implementation of homeworking. This report helps to inform policy-makers and employers to facilitate and support remote working on a wider scale.

Key findings

1 More and more people are homeworking. Working mainly from home has increased by 80% in 20 years to reach 5.3% of workers. However, the majority of homeworkers do so only occasionally.
2 29.6% of people worked from home in the past 12 months, though a further 8.5% of people had the option to do so but did not exercise it.
3 Age is a key determinant of working from home. Older workers are more likely to be in the ‘mainly work from home’ category. The ageing workforce is a reason for the increase in the number of people working from home. Occasional homeworking peaks in middle age.
4 Homeworking is most prevalent in high-skilled professional and managerial occupations. For example, managers, directors and other senior officials and people in professional occupations most commonly work from home, with process, plant and machine operatives and those in elementary occupations least likely to.
5 Homeworking differs by industry. In the information and communication industry, more than half of workers work from home. In accommodation and food services, fewer than one in ten people work from home.
6 Technology is a huge driver, with the transition to digital having a profound effect on the way we work. Surveys show that not only do most jobs involve a computer, but for most jobs the use of a computer is essential. This has combined with a huge increase in household internet access over the last two decades to mean that many more people are able to work from home if their jobs allow.
7 Increased commuting time is another driver. People who occasionally work from home have a nine-minute longer journey time than those who do not. It is not clear whether longer commutes are leading people to work from home, or the ability to work from home is facilitating longer commutes.
8 Some jobs are less amendable to homeworking, but the same factors that make homeworking difficult make these jobs hard to offshore.
9 Technology alone won’t ensure homeworking. Employers should establish new norms, particularly around communication and collaboration. Technology can help, but culture change needs to embed it.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Megatrends: Working from home – what’s driving the rise in remote working? | CIPD

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