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The number of homeworkers in the UK has increased markedly over the last ten years.

Paystream News

Tuesday 20th Jun, 2017

The number of people who regularly work from home in the UK has increased significantly over the past ten years, new statistics show.

Figures from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) published to coincide with last month's National Work from Home Day show a dramatic rise in homeworking during the last decade, as flexible working and self-employment have both become increasingly common.

So, just how many people currently work from home across Britain, and why are more and more people choosing to do so?

How many people now work from home?

The TUC found that there has been a 19 per cent increase in the number of people who frequently work from home in the UK in the last ten years, meaning that an extra 241,000 individuals do so compared to the figure in 2005.

Much of this increase is down to women, as a growing number of females are setting up as limited company contractors or freelancers so that they can achieve an improved work-life balance and are better able to juggle their professional and childcare responsibilities. This expanding group of women is often referred to as 'mumpreneurs'.

In total, 35 per cent more women were working from home in 2015 than in 2005, but men still account for the larger share of homeworkers (912,000 vs 609,000).

Overall, more than 1.5 million people now regularly work from home across the UK, up from just over 1.2 million back in 2005.

Homeworking was found to be particularly popular among older people, with 454,000 of those who have turned their back on the traditional office environment aged 40 and above, while 414,000 are aged over 50.

This may be due to middle-aged people often having multiple responsibilities to juggle: their career, looking after their children and caring for their elderly parents. As a result, being able to work from home means they can better manage their work-life balance, while working for themselves as a contractor or freelancer means they can take time out from their job whenever they need to.

Regional variations were also seen in the TUC data, with the south-west of England home to the biggest proportion of homeworkers, at one in 12 of all workers, which was closely followed by the east of England (1 in 14) and the south-east (1 in 16). Yet in Northern Ireland, just 1 in 48 people work from home, demonstrating that there are different attitudes towards working styles in various parts of the UK.

Phil Flaxton, Chief Executive of WorkWiseUK, the company behind the annual National Work From Home Day, explained: "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."

IT, agricultural and construction workers were found to be the most likely to be based at home, with the large agriculture industry in Devon and Cornwall perhaps providing an insight into why the homeworking rate is so high in the south-west.

Although millions of people already regularly work from home, statistics show that an extra four million workers would like to and may be considering moving into contracting or freelancing in order to reap the benefits of homeworking.

What are the main benefits of working from home?

Commenting on the new figures, General Secretary of the TUC Frances O'Grady stated: "Modern homeworking is good for the economy, as it helps businesses hold on to talented staff and boost productivity, and it allows those with caring responsibilities or a disability greater access to the jobs market."

But what other benefits can limited company contractors and freelancers who work from home achieve?

The main reason, and the one that most other reasons link back to, is that working from home allows people to achieve a better balance between their personal and professional lives. For instance, not having to go into the office means not having to commute, which saves time and money in a worker's day, allowing them to start work earlier if they want to and be more productive as a result.

Homeworking also provides significantly more flexibility, particularly if people are working for themselves as personal service company contractors, as they can choose their own hours of work and manage their own workloads, which can ultimately bring them greater satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.

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