It was not so long ago that going off to work each morning was the accepted thing to do, and anyone who worked from home was the exception. Times have certainly changed. Since the Office for National Statistics started collecting data on the subject in 1997, the number of people working from home has trebled. In 2005, its Labour Market Trends survey found that 3.1 million people, or 11% of the UK workforce, were working from home full time, and many more for part of the working week. And, apparently, many office-bound workers aspire to do so.
Work from home
Over three million British homeworkers and rising can’t all be wrong, and the increase in numbers is not surprising when we look at all the diverse factors – economic, social, and political – that are contributing to fewer people traveling to a central place on a daily basis. Each homeworker has their own reasons, or combination of reasons, for making this choice. These range from the desire to lead a less stressful life and see more of their family to the need to cut the costs of transport at a time when housing and utility bills eat up more disposable income than ever before.
USE THE TECHNOLOGY
The internet has allowed us to transfer information on a scale and at a speed never previously experienced. The advent of broadband has enabled huge files to be sent and received which previously would have required physical delivery. All kinds of jobs can now be done by people at home when before they would have needed to go to a library or company headquarters to access expert information. Sophisticated search engines mean we have access to experts wherever we are. Multinational companies can hold global meetings with videoconferencing and nobody has to get on a plane.
Have a better work /life balance
Employees are fed up with wasting their precious work and leisure time in traffic queues and crowded trains when they could be at their desks or with their families. Daily commuting is tiring, stressful, and expensive, and more and more people who are able to earn a living away from the major centers of commerce are moving out. Working from home gives you control over every aspect of your life, so you can forget about conforming to office culture and do your work the way you want when you want. Ignore the phone ringing when you’re concentrating and nobody will be glaring at you.
Let’s face it, commuting today is extortionately expensive. If you drive your own car you have to pay for petrol and parking, possibly road tolls and the congestion charge, depending on where you live. And don’t even think about exceeding the time on your parking ticket or stopping on double yellow lines to pick up a pint of milk on the way home. If you use public transport you have to contend with ever-increasing fares for ever-more crowded services, delays, and unexpected cancellations.
Some jobs can’t be done from home
Of course, there are some jobs that just can’t be done from home and never will. You can’t work from home if you are a nurse, a lorry driver or a restaurant chef. It may be that there are materials and equipment kept at your place of work that can’t be moved to your home. Or perhaps you need to be in regular face-to-face contact with colleagues and clients at your office.
Advantages of homeworking for the environment
Carbon emissions into the atmosphere are reduced as homeworkers:
- Cut down their work miles.
- Turn down the heating, get better insulation and switch off computers and appliances to keep utility bills down.
- Shop locally and maybe grow their own fruit and vegetables in some of the time saved by not commuting.
It seems as though it’s still early days to be thinking about working from home. Look closely at the statements that are not yet true for you. Is there anything here that you can start to work on? Perhaps you could start to develop your skills or plan to make changes to your home