Homeworking: Driven by the Recession?

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The Home Office (Photo credit: osde8info)

More women are taking on flexible working roles, data shows .

The number of people working from home has risen by 13% in the last five years, according to figures recently released by the TUC (Trades Union Congress, the trade unions’ association).

Just over four million employees said that they mainly worked from home in 2012, an increase of 470,000 since 2007, found the analysis of previously unpublished data from the Labour Force Survey.

The south-east, Scotland and Wales saw the sharpest rise in homeworking over this period.

Gender-wise, two-thirds of homeworkers were male, the figures showed, but an increasing number of women were also making this career move.

Women took the majority of new homeworking roles being created, said the TUC, but this was partly due to the fact that 81% of these new jobs were part-time.

In addition to the four million people who usually worked from home, many millions more occasionally worked from home, found the research.

The TUC said that this rise in homeworking – in spite of many fearing that the recession would halt flexible working practices – confirmed that it had become an essential part of the UK labour market.

It added that technological progress and the rise of the services sector, where many jobs do not require specialised machinery or face-to-face contact with colleagues or customers, had helped fuel this growth.

But while homeworking had obvious benefits, such as fitting in with caring commitments and relegating long and expensive commutes, employers needed to be mindful of some of the easily-avoidable drawbacks that come with working in a solo environment, said the TUC.

Businesses could guard against feelings of isolation from other workers and the workplace by keeping in regular contact with homeworking staff, fully involving them in what is happening in the office, it explained.

“The sheer scale of homeworking proves how easily it can be done but there are still too many employers who are reluctant to allow staff to work away from the office or the shop floor,” commented TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, was recently heavily criticised by analysts over her decision to ban working from home (Wiess, 2013). Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s chief of human resources, acting on instructions from the CEO, sent out a company-wide memo explaining that as of June, all workers – including those with remote-working arrangements – would be expected to work in the office.

“Of course there are challenges with homeworking. It requires employers to trust staff and people can feel isolated if the relationship is not managed properly. But these issues are easily dealt with through smart employment relations.”

The TUC’s figures were published 16 May to mark National Work From Home Day, organised by WorkWise UK.

Reference: Weiss, T. (2013) Yahoo’s Mayer Slated Over ‘Foolish’ Home Working Ban. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/yahoo-home-working-ban-108776> [Accessed: 30 May, 2013].

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