From the TUC

Work from home day: Why on earth are there not more people working from home?

20 May 2011, by in Working Life

Today is Work From Home Day, which is an annual event organised by WorkWiseUK to promote smarter working – flexible working and  high-quality home-working. The TUC is interested in home working because there is a huge unmet demand amongst workers. Indeed, research commissioned by the previous government suggests some 4.5 million more employees would like to work from home for at least part of the week.

The problem is that difficult economic times means that many employers have turned their attention to other matters, whilst some employees have also become more reluctant to ask  for home-working in workplaces where rumours of redundancies are in the air. More now needs to be done to promote smarter working, otherwise we will miss out on an easy win-win solution that also benefits our environment.

Home-working can also benefit employers, both in terms of personnel benefits and reducing office costs. Its is also the case that cutting commuter journeys reduces congestion on our transport networks and attenuates needless vehicle emissions.

The TUC’s analysis of the Labour Force Survey found that the number of people working from home has increased substantially in the past five years- by more than 200,000. However, the increase stalled during the recession and further measures  are now needed in order to re-start the upward trend. It could help if the Government extends the right to request flexible  working to everybody, but home-working and flexible working are also matters for employer good practice and trade union collective bargaining.

…..and after Tuesday’s nightmare journey (90 minutes to travel 6 miles), I’m really glad that its Work From Home day!

Home-working 2005-2010

work from home (thousands) % work from home
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 2005-2010 +227 +0.6%

Source: LFS (autumn quarters) – all in employment

2 Responses to Work from home day: Why on earth are there not more people working from home?

  1. Clare Fernyhough
    May 25th 2011, 11:14 am

    I agree that people should have the right to request to work from home. I think that this should definately apply to disabled people. For years I’ve been seeking some kind of work I could do from home. I am chronically disabled and I knew that eventually I would have to give up my freelance work in the arts.

    The ironic thing is that while I was still able to work, the government funded my care, but I had a shock when I finished work when I found out that, despite receiving much less in benefits than my freelance income, I would now have to pay 25% of my benefits over to the county council. I was told that this was to ‘encourage’ disabled people to work, but what happens when you can’t?. As a friend said to me shortly before I found out, if the government are going to punish me for being ill by taking such a large chunk of what little income I have because they want to ‘encourage’ me to work, surely it should be their responsibility to find suitable work for me that I can do from home.

    I have a laptop and a phone as well as a good education. I could be available for a few hours each day, but then I do have weeks where I am hardly capable of anything at all; recently I had a three week period like that. Still, it would be good to do something on days that I could just sit and whatever I earned could offset benefit payments as well as leaving me a ‘disregard’ which for me would offset the cost of my care.

    It’s hardly likey to happen in this country, especially for disabled people, who by nature, need very flexible working arrangements. I know that in the US whole call centers are home based; it’s a very recent thing, but it shows that some companies are prepared to experiment with this. I also noted on a business website where a woman like me was looking for advice, and some start up business people said they were looking for home based telephone workers, but there’s no centralized point to access these potential employers.

    Perhaps I ought to start up a website that does.

  2. Witty Artist
    Jun 6th 2011, 8:25 am

    Definitely more and more people are struggling to work from home. But I’ve noticed that some find it hard, because they’re afraid they will lost that safety provided by their official job. I say it’s more safety that we ourselves master our own life and not depend on others. Moreover, if we weigh the pros and cons, I think that working from home has more advantages than working in an office.