Growth of homeworking stalled during recession

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date: 19 May 2011

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 20 May 2011

The growth of homeworking stalled during the recent recession, the TUC says in a new analysis of official figures to mark National Work From Home Day today (Friday), which is organised by Work Wise UK.

The TUC research shows that between 2005 and 2010, an extra 227,000 people said they mainly worked from home, bringing the total number of homeworkers to 3.7 million by 2010.

But last year saw a small fall in the proportion of people working from home, from 12.9 to 12.8 per cent of the workforce, with the total number of homeworkers increasing by just 10,000.

High unemployment and job insecurity during the recession is likely to have made staff more reluctant to ask to work from home, says the TUC.

However working from home can save on office costs, ease transport congestion and help staff manage their workload more effectively, making it a more productive and cost-effective way to work, says the TUC.

While not every job is suitable for homeworking all of the time, regular or occasional working from home is still possible in a wide range of jobs, with unions and employers agreeing flexible working arrangements in workplaces across the UK, says the TUC.

The TUC analysis coincides with National Work From Home Day, organised by Work Wise UK, as part of Work Wise Week 2011 (16-20 May).

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Working from home can slash business costs, cut expensive and time-wasting commutes and help staff manage their workload more effectively.

'Over the last five years, more employers and staff have embraced working from home, though recent job insecurity has made some staff reluctant to ask for it. The tough economic climate makes the business case for homeworking even stronger, and unions are encouraging more businesses to give it a try.

'By taking part in National Work From Home Day, we can get the UK working smarter again.'

Chief executive of Work Wise UK Phil Flaxton said: 'Being able to work from home every now and again is a sensible move for individuals and their employers. The employee avoids the stressful daily commute and can concentrate on work without the usual office distractions.

'Smart employers know this already. Now it's time for the rest to wake up to the benefits of smarter working. Workers stuck with old-fashioned, rigid patterns of working based on 'presenteeism' want access to flexi-time and homeworking.

'Employers who fail to move with the times are likely to find their ability to attract and retain the best staff becomes increasingly difficult.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Home-working 2005-10

Year

Work from home (thousands)

Work from home (per cent)

2005

3,517

12.2

2006

3,597

12.4

2007

3,592

12.2

2008

3,762

12.4

2009

3,734

12.9

2010

3,744

12.8

Increase 2005-10

+227

+0.6

Source: ONS Labour Force Survey (autumn quarters) - all in employment

- More information about Work Wise Week 2011 can be found at www.workwiseuk.org

- Work Wise UK is a not-for-profit organization which promotes smarter ways of working. It identifies how changes to working practices can save money and deliver greater staff satisfaction.

- Supporters of the Work Wise UK campaign include the TUC, CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, Equality and Human Rights Commission, RAC Foundation and StaffShare.

- 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

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