Nearly one in five UK employees wants to work from home but is being prevented from doing so by their employer, according to the TUC.
Despite the recent growth in homeworking, official statistics show that there is still “huge untapped potential” across the workforce, with 4.5 million employees saying that they want to work from home on a regular basis but are not being allowed to do so, the union body said.
While not all workers want to work from home, and many jobs require staff to be at a specific workplace, there are still millions of people and thousands of businesses that could benefit from more flexible working patterns if they took the chance, according to TUC general secretary Brendan Barber: “Working from home is growing in popularity but millions of staff are still unable to try it out thanks to over-controlling employers,” he said.
“Too many workers are wasting their time making journeys they don’t need to, clogging our transport networks during the rush hour and adding to their carbon footprint unnecessarily, while companies are losing out on the cost and productivity benefits of homeworking. Surely we can be a lot smarter than that.”
To mark today’s “National Work From Home Day”, organised by WorkWise UK, the TUC is offering five reasons why employers can benefit from homeworking:
- Better staff recruitment and retention Homeworking can widen the recruitment pool by attracting people who have traditionally struggled to find work, such as single parents and those with disabilities.
- Improved motivation and productivity Employees are more likely to have high morale where employers are seen to take account of their needs. Employers as diverse as the Nationwide building society and the Ministry of Defence are reporting productivity gains achieved by homeworking.
- Improving the quality and reputation of the service Good employment practices can enhance the reputation of businesses. Homeworking and flexible working can extend the hours when businesses are in touch with customers.
- Reduction of sickness absence and travel costs Not working in an office environment can reduce exposure to colds, flu and other contagious diseases. Cutting out the commute can reduce stress.
- Infrastructure cost savings Homeworking can save on car parking space, office rent and running costs. BT saves £2.2 million per year through homeworking and flexible working, whilst Suffolk County Council was able to cut the size of its new central services office block by one-third by using these practices.
Comprehensive advice to employers on implementing flexible working practices is available from XpertHR.