15 May is National Work from Home Day

This Thursday (May 15) is National Work from Home Day when up to five million workers are expected to work from home across the UK.

Nearly 3.5 million people already work from home in the UK – 12.2 per cent or one-in-eight of the population – an increase of 600,000 since 1997. The highest proportion of home workers is in the South West with 15.7 per cent, followed by Eastern England with 14.4 per cent. The lowest is in the North East with 9.3 per cent, followed by Scotland with 9.4 per cent.

Using figures for employed people only (excluding self-employed), the highest growth in the past decade has been seen in Northern Ireland with 83 per cent, followed by London with 55 per cent and Eastern England with 45 per cent. The highest proportion of home workers is in the South West with 6.8 per cent, followed by Eastern England with 6.2 per cent. The lowest is in Northern Ireland with 3.8 per cent, closely followed by Scotland with
3.9 per cent. The UK average is 5.1 per cent with growth of 36 per cent over the last decade.

“The benefits of working from home, even occasionally, are now widely accepted,” said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, the not-for-profit organisation behind the initiative. “Not only does it reduce the amount of commuting people have to do, enhancing their work-life balance, but many are actually more productive.

“Although many organisations practise the age-old philosophy of ‘presenteeism’, they should open their eyes to the new work ethic spreading across the UK and try out home working: they may well be surprised.”

Home working is one of the smarter working practises being promoted through the Work Wise UK campaign, which is entering its third year. Others include flexible working, including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights, mobile and remote working. Work Wise partners include the TUC, CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London. It aims to encourage half the working population, some 14 million people, to be offered smarter working by 2011.

To assist organisations wanting to adopt smarter working practices, Work Wise UK provides guidance and assistance through its website and via a national network of advisers, and offers a framework for organisations to work to, culminating in the award of the Work Wise Mark of Excellence.