Employers stop one in five workers from working from home

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date: 23 September 2010

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 24 September 2010

Nearly one in five workers want to work from home but are being prevented from doing so by their employer, says the TUC as it offers five reasons for businesses to try out home working to mark National Work From Home Day today (Friday).

Despite the recent growth in home working, official statistics show there is still huge untapped potential across the workforce, with 4.5 million employees saying they want to work from home on a regular basis but are not allowed to do so.

While not all workers want to work from home, and many jobs require staff to be in a specific workplace, there are still millions of people and thousands of businesses that could benefit from more flexible working patterns if they took the chance, says the TUC.

To mark National Work From Home Day, organised by WorkWise UK, the TUC is offering five reasons why businesses can benefit from home working:

  • Better staff recruitment and retention - Home working can widen the recruitment pool by attracting people who have traditionally struggled to find work, such as single parents and those with disabilities.
  • Improved motivation and productivity - Employees are more likely to have high morale where employers are seen to take account of their needs. Employers as diverse as the Nationwide Building society and the Ministry of Defence are reporting productivity gains achieved by home working.
  • Improving the quality and reputation of the service - Good employment practices can enhance the reputation of businesses. Home working and flexible working can extend the hours when businesses are in touch with customers.
  • Reduction of sickness absence and travel costs - Not working in an office environment can reduce exposure to colds, flu and other contagious diseases. Cutting out the commute can reduce stress.
  • Infrastructure cost savings - Home working can save on car parking space, office rent and running costs. BT saves £2.2 million per year through home working and flexible working, whilst Suffolk County Council was able to cut the size of its new central services office block by a third by using these practices.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Working for home is growing in popularity but millions of staff are still unable to try it out thanks to over controlling employers.

'Too many workers are wasting their time making journeys they don't need to, clogging our transport networks during the rush hour and adding to their carbon footprint unnecessarily, while companies are losing out on the cost and productivity benefits of home working. Surely we can be a lot smarter than that.

'Many employers are still nervous about introducing home working but National Work From Home Day offers a great opportunity to try it out and see how it benefits both staff and business.'

Chief Executive of Work Wise UK Phil Flaxton said: 'The nature of work is changing and an increasing number of the working population can now work remotely or from home.

'Apart from enhancing work-life balance for employees, with the added health benefits, and reducing the need to travel, working from home can significantly improve productivity, enabling organisations to reduce costs whilst improving efficiency.

'I urge UK employers to embrace new smarter working practices by supporting this year's National Work from Home Day.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The finding that 4.5 million employees say they want to work from home on a regular basis but are not allowed to do so is from the 2007 Work-Life Balance Employee Survey by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform www.berr.gov.uk/files/file38388.pdf

- WorkWiseUK is a not-for-profit initiative promoting smarter working, which includes more flexibility about the time and place of work as a way of delivering higher productivity. Further details can be found at www.workwiseuk.org

- The TUC/CBI/BERR Telework Agreement outlines some of the issues to consider when introducing homeworking: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file27456.pdf

- High-quality home working implies that home working is by mutual consent, is properly resourced and managed, and that both employer and employee gain from the arrangement.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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