Homeworker numbers increase by one-fifth in last decade

Thursday 26 May 2016

There has been a 19 per cent increase in the number of people choosing to work from home in the UK over the past ten years, according to a new report.

Research published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to coincide with last week's National Work From Home Day - an event organised by WorkWise UK - shows that 241,000 more people now regularly work from home than they did a decade ago.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, stated that homeworking is "good for the economy", with recent figures from the Association for Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) supporting this, showing that home-based freelancers contribute £109 billion to the UK economy each year.

The TUC report also showed that the number of women opting to work from home has increased by 35 per cent between 2005 and 2015, as a greater number of females strive to achieve a healthier, more manageable balance between their professional and family lives.

Most homeworkers are still men though, with 912,000 males regularly working from home last year in comparison to 609,000 women.

In terms of age, homeworking was found to be more popular among workers aged 40 and above, with 454,000 people in their 40s preferring a home office environment to a more traditional set-up, along with 414,000 over-50s.

Regional variations could also be seen within the TUCs' analysis, with the south-west of England the nation's homeworking hotspot. The proportion of homeworkers in the region was one in 12, which was closely followed by one in 14 in the east of England and one in 16 in the south-east.

Meanwhile, an additional four million workers have said that they would be interested in working from home on a more regular basis in the future.

One of the main reasons behind the significant rise in homeworker numbers in the past ten years is the economic recession of the mid-2000s, which saw many people forced to leave their jobs and seek a new career path.

As a result, a large number set up their own limited companies or small business ventures to allow them to gain greater control over their careers, with many of these operations established in their own homes to save on paying for separate premises.

The TUC analysis also led to the discovery that the industries with the highest number of homeworkers are agriculture, construction and IT.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of WorkWise UK, commented: "The structure of our economy and consequently our workplaces has changed significantly.

"Cultural, economic and social changes are affecting attitudes to how we balance or mix work and lifestyle, where increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional, office-based, nine-to-five work patterns to be replaced by more home-based, flexible ways and periods of work."

By Victoria McDonnell

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