Bible Of Urban Cool Backs A Rise In Work At Home

ArticleToday’s article on the growth of London’s live/work spaces in that bible of urban cool Time Out marked yet more recognition of the continued adoption of work-at-home as both a lifestyle and economic choice for many people in the UK. Figures released from the Office for National Statistics recently showed that over four million people in the UK now regularly work from home.

Commenting on the ONS figures TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Cheaper and quicker internet access has played a big factor in the growth of home working. Modern home working is good for the economy as it increases productivity, helps businesses hold on to talented staff and allows people with caring responsibilities or a disability to access the labour market.

“Despite all these benefits, many employers still don’t trust their staff to work from home and force them to make unnecessary time-consuming trips into the office so they can keep an eye on them. Employers need to take a more enlightened approach to home-working as it can benefit business, the workforce and the wider economy.”

As further evidence of the potential benefits the Harvard Business Review reported on a trial conducted by the Chinese travel website Ctrip where call centre staff were given the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group.

Survey responses and performance data collected at the conclusion of the study revealed that, in comparison with the employees who came into the office, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive.

Professor Nicholas Bloom who ran the study said: “The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away. Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment.

“Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.”

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So compelling evidence that many organisations facing increasingly challenging trading conditions should revisit their attitude to home working. In the words of Work Wise UK’s Chief Executive Phil Wise: “To help achieve the productivity improvements necessary, many employers need to change their outdated attitudes to home-working and embrace new ways of working in the 21st century.”