Working from home is a rapidly growing trend in the North West as the number of people doing paperwork in their pyjamas has increased by more than 70,000 in the last 10 years – and 200,000 more would like to join them, according to the Trade Union Congress.
The number of people working from home shot up between 2005 and 2015, bringing the total in the North West to 382, 923, according to figures from the Office of Nation Statistics (ONS).
And those holding conference meetings from the comfort of their couch are making up a progressively larger proportion of the region’s work-force – a change for the better according to the TUC as it is strengthening people’s work-life balance.
North West TUC regional secretary Lynn Collins said: “These figures show how hundreds of thousands of people in the region have embraced homeworking.
“This has allowed them to enjoy a better work-life balance and save time and money on costly commutes.”
The statistics were released last week to coincide with National Work from Home Day on Friday June 6.
Ms Collins added that: “Employers who offer the option of homeworking often say that it improves staff retention and productivity. However, we need more bosses follow suit.
“The TUC estimates that there could be as many as another 200,000 people in the North West who would like to work from home.
“National Work from Home Day is a useful reminder for employers of the importance of flexible working and how it can improve engagement and performance at work.”
Paul Sellers, TUC policy officer, explained that there were several reasons someone would choose to work from home, but that the figures were actually not as high as expected.
He said: “It’s not as much as some of the pundits thought it would be, which is the other side of the story.
“We were told we were all going to be wired up and have paperless offices and millions more would be working from home.”
Mr Sellers said that, besides avoiding the cost of commuting, working from home gave greater flexibility to those who have someone in their care, and empowered people with disabilities.
However, he said one common pitfall to be wary of was losing the ‘connection’ with your boss.
He said: “You have to be careful not to lose the sense of joined-up-ness with the employer and your colleagues.”
Mr Sellers went on to praise the advantages that technology afforded us, making it easier than ever to work from home and stay connected with colleagues.
He told MM: “The technology is there, and the social willingness to do it is coming up.
“All that’s left is to get people to do it who can do it, who are largely doing it because they want to do it.
“You’ve then got, hopefully, fairly motivated people who feel that they are in charge of their own time, but also feel that because they are working from home that they need to do a full day’s work.”
The policy officer also said that some industries were lagging behind in moving towards home-based work, but this was down to the dispositions of particular roles.
He said: “There’s kind of a barrier, the culture change is running slower, everything is working out differently in different industries and different statuses of jobs.”
With estimated 200,000 people wanting to work from, Mr Sellers explained that there were still challenges to overcome to convince employers to move towards more home-based roles.
He added: “You have to have the right people that you can trust, there’s that element to it. There’s a social factor, and there’s a kind of change in the management culture.
“At the moment they’re missing out, because companies that do this tend to get higher productivity from people who work from home. It’s a shame that’s it held back.”
Image courtsesy of Jenny Spadafora, with thanks.