Thanks to the advent of high-speed internet, mobile devices, and digital meeting platforms, homeworking has become the latest fad in today’s corporate world. While many companies are yet to accept it as the preferred means of working, no one can deny that the popularity of homeworking is on the rise.
Traditionally, homeworking mainly applied to self-employed professionals who conducted their business from home. However, the concept of homeworking has changed drastically over time and nowadays it typically means ‘working remote’ and applies to:
- A professional working from home on an as-needed or ad-hoc basis.
- A professional dividing time equally between home and office.
- A professional working full-time from home and making occasional visits to office.
Let us look at these types of homeworking in greater detail.
Sometimes employees work more effectively from home where they can concentrate more and avoid office related interruptions.
Some companies are open to occasion homeworking when it is difficult for employees to travel to the office for reasons such as illness, location, train strikes or adverse weather.
When an employee spends more than or equal to 50% of his/her working hours from home, he/she should be considered as a homeworking employee. However, for these employees, the office remains the contractual basis for their employment, travelling and subsistence.
When the job, with the help of appropriate IT systems, can be conducted as effectively and efficiently as it could have been from office. This depends on a few other factors:
- The job is autonomous in nature.
- Colleagues will not have any extra work-load because of the employee working from home.
- Or a disabled employee suffers from mobility problems.
Popularity of Homeworking
There is a wide range of research studies and employee surveys conducted worldwide in recent times that show a clear trend in popularity of homeworking. Interestingly, the findings are not only about the benefits employees perceive on being able to work remotly, but also about the improvement in performance metrics for the employers. In a research conducted by Vodafone, 83% of 8000 global employers and employees said adopting flexible working hours help them improve their productivity, while 61% of them believed that it had also helped their companies increase profits. The report, titled ‘Flexible: Friend or Foe?’ found that SMEs in particular were overwhelmingly convinced about the business benefits of flexible working.
Data from the Trades Union Congress and the Office for National Statistics(ONS) shows that there is a steady increase in the number of homeworkers who usually spend at least half their work time at home from 1.3 million in 1998 to 4.2 million in 2014. More than a third of homeworkers are employees, while the rest are self-employed or work in the family business. The number of homeworkers is predicted to keep on rising, particularly in office-related work.
Looking at the widespread acceptance of this mode of working, even the UK government has extended the right to every employee to request flexible working hours which was reserved for carers and those looking after children till 2014.
Why are Professionals Working from Home?
There are a number of perceivable benefits of homeworking which has been proven by its rising popularity. As mentioned earlier, these benefits are for both employees and employers. The primary reasons for working from home or choosing flexible working are:
- Employers are always looking to cut overhead and operational costs – homeworking helps in reducing office space, operational processes and more. Considering that office space will soon have to be accounted for as a liability in the UK, homeworking is a good solution.
- Employees are looking for better work-life balance, flexible working hours and a flexible location for work.
- There are increasing numbers of employees with responsibilities caring for family, including the elderly.
- The rising costs of commuting.
- Government policies encouraging people with disabilities to get back into work.
Homeworking, however, does come with its share of negatives too. In our next blog, we will be exploring both the pros and cons associated with homeworking.