Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

One in twelve in South West work from home – survey

The South West has the highest proportion of home workers in the country, according to a survey published today (Friday), with one in twelve workers – 188,000 people – working from home regularly.

The report has been released to mark Work Wise UK’s National Work from Home Day.

However, the Trades Union Congress – which conducted the nationwide survey – said the figures were skewed by the rural nature of the region, with agricultural and manufacturing workers coming top of those most likely to work from home.

The TUC says more bosses need to give their employees the option of home working. It estimates around 4 million more UK workers say they would like to work from home for at least some of their working week – but aren’t given the chance.

Flexible working can improve people’s work-life balance, ensure people can spend more time with their families as well as cut down on long commute times common to many parts of the South West region, says the organisation.

South West TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said: “In many cases, homeworking is a win-win-win. Workers get more time with their families, employers can boost productivity and hang on to experienced staff, and the environment benefits as well.”

“But too many employers in the South West are still clinging to tradition, or don’t trust their staff enough to encourage homeworking. It’s time they caught up.”

“Unions can help negotiate home working policies that work positively for both employers and staff. But the government must also support the region by investing in decent broadband infrastructure so that every worker can get a high-speed connection at home.”

The analysis also reveals that:

  • Gender: There are almost twice as many men as women homeworkers. Although women are catching up with more than a third (36 percent) more working from home than a decade ago.
  • Homeowners: People who own their home are 73 percent more likely to work at home than renters.
  • Age: Older workers are more likely to work at home, with 7.5 percent of 40-59 year olds homeworking but only 3.4 percent 20-29 year olds.
  • Occupation: 11.9 percent of managers work at home – more than any other group
  • Disabled workers: Homeworking can be an important way for disabled workers to access the labour market, and there are 270,000 disabled people who work from home.

The chief executive of Work Wise UK, the organiser of National Work from Home Day, Phil Flaxton said: “Whilst it is encouraging to see a significant increase in the number of employees working from home there still needs to be a cultural shift for it to be accepted more widely.

“Attitudes are changing on how we balance or mix work and lifestyle. Increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional nine-to-five work patterns, to be replaced by a more flexible approach to the working week and this trend will continue as more of us embrace new, smarter ways of working such as working from home.

“More employers need to realise the tangible benefits of changing outdated working practices to reflect the connected world in which we live. These include, increased productivity, staff retention, less absenteeism and employee burnout.

“The business case is sound, and it really can be a win-win for all concerned.”