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4.2m people across the UK now work from home, but trust is a growth barrier

There are now over 4.2 million people across the UK working from home, according to the TUC, which is up by more than 800,000 since 2005.
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In terms of a percentage breakdown, 13.7 per cent of the British workforce are regularly working from home in 2015 compared to 12 per cent ten years ago.

London experienced the highest growth at more than 193,000 additional people working away from the office in 2015, hitting a total of 624,000. However, the South East was the region with the largest portion of workers at 720,000, followed by the South West with 485,000.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland accounted for the fewest remote workers with just 74,000 and experienced a decline of more than 10,000 people over the period, while Wales was highlighted with sluggish growth of just 0.1 per cent.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary, TUC, said: “These figures show millions of British workers have adopted homeworking and are enjoying a better work-life balance, while saving time and money on costly commuting that benefits no-one.

“Although organisations that have embraced homeworking often say that it has improved retention and productivity, there are still too many employers who are afraid to let their staff try out this way of working. The TUC estimates that there could be as many as another 1.8 million people who would enjoy the benefits of working from home.”

Interestingly, at 62.8 per cent, more men are working from home than women – though the study pointed out that is due in part to fewer women working independently.

The information and communications industry was the dominant sector for remote working, with 17.7 per cent, followed by professional, scientific and technical sector at 16 per cent and property at 14.4 per cent.

Leaders from the UK’s fastest growing businesses said previously that they are abandoning the office and email in order to support growth.

“Working from home, or other locations, is driven from employers as much as employees. Offices are really expensive, if you can build trust with your employees you can reduce costs while offering freedom. It’s a win-win situation,” explained Damian Kimmelman, founder and CEO of Duedil.

However, it seems as though senior staff are securing the benefits ahead of other workers. The findings showed 20.1 per cent of managers work from home, compared to 6.7 per cent of staff in lower positions.

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Phil Flaxton, chief executive, Work Wise UK added: “ Work is something you do, not somewhere you go, and adopting a flexible culture has been proven to cut down on wasted time and cost. Trust, and perceived impact on culture, are however the main barriers to change, not technology.

“Many organisations have already woken up to the fact that they can attract and retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work, and that a healthy work-life balance contributes to individual motivation and performance, business success and growth. In addition, developments in technology help support a multiplicity of working arrangements such as working from home.”

Image: Shutterstock

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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