Self-employed lead advance in home working

The number of Brits using phones and computers to work mainly from home has doubled over the past eight years thanks to rapid advances in technology, new research reveals.

The Office for National Statistics says that in 1997, so-called teleworkers accounted for just four per cent of the workforce, when around 900,000 workers kept in touch via technology.

Now that figure has doubled to 2.4 million, meaning people working from home as executive managers, senior officials, professionals or technical experts now account for 8 per cent of the UK workforce.

The majority of these professionals are self-employed, though ONS said that entrepreneurs still form a “relatively small share” of the total workforce.

Nevertheless, six of ten so-called teleworkers at the beginning of Spring 2005 were working for themselves, with concentrations highest in the East, South West, South East and London.

Just over 2 million teleworkers, 62 per cent of which are self-employed, said they could not continue work without a phone or a computer, compared to the 700,000 admitting the same back in 1997.

The massive growth in networking technologies, cheaper broadband and record low prices for computer sales have spurred the unprecedented increases.

Companies have meanwhile become more accepting of home-workers, citing improved efficiency and flexible working solutions as preferable to crowded or costly office premises.

A further proportion of home workers say that technology is not necessary for them to continue working from home, of which the ONS report around 3.1million.

These workers without the need for technology might consider the offering of Roy Jackson, whose Surrey-based company provides timber framed garden offices for the home worker seeking to improve their work-life balance.

Jackson’s pitch is that his company can give the average home worker acess to about 15hours extra productivity time, tax breaks and VAT payments all within about ten days.

“As more people find working from home becoming the norm, using the 3rd bedroom, dining room or garage is too close to the daily activities and distractions, so [they] are now seeking to create space outside their home,” Jackson says.

“A lot of people working from home feel they don't get away from their work as it is often too tempting just to pop into the bedroom office and check for emails, having a garden office means you can lock up at the end of the day and come home.”

The company, For Outdoors, says home-based entrepreneurs and clients alike will find the garden office more amenable than doing business from the bedroom, at a starting costs of around £6,000.


10th October 2005

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