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Homeworking up by 152,000 in 2016

Frances O'Grady

The number of employees who usually work from home increased by 152,000 last year, according to new analysis published by the TUC to mark National Work From Home Day.

The analysis shows that more than 1.6 million employees (1 in 16) worked from home in 2016 – an increase of 7.7 percent on the year before. The analysis reveals that: Women have seen the biggest rise: The number of women working from home has increased by 10.5 percent (64,000) over the past year. However, men still account for the majority of homeworkers, with 966,000 regularly working from home in 2016, compared to 673,000 women. Older employees are more likely to work from home: 1 in 13 workers in their forties and fifties work from home. By contrast, just 1 in 36 workers (168,000) in their twenties regularly work from home.

The South West has the highest proportion of homeworkers: 1 in 11 workers in the South West regularly work from home. The next highest is the East of England (1 in 13), followed by the South East (1 in 14). Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of homeworkers in the UK, with just 1 in 33 employees saying they regularly work from home. IT, agriculture and construction have the biggest share of homeworkers: 1 in 6 IT workers regularly work from home. Government research shows that another 4 million UK workers would like to work from home for at least some of their working week but are not given the chance.

Properly-managed homeworking can save time and money on commutes, give more flexibility over working time, and make it easier for carers and parents doing the school run. Home working is also an important way for disabled people to access the labour market, currently used by 190,000 disabled people. For employers, homeworking makes recruitment easier, can increase productivity, and reduce premises costs. However, the TUC warns that homeworkers must be properly supported. Homeworkers’ additional bills should be covered, and they should have access to the right equipment.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Homeworking is a great option for some workers, especially those with disabilities. Businesses should seriously look at the benefits it can bring. Allowing employees to work from home can be good for holding on to talented staff and boosting productivity. But homeworking shouldn’t be viewed as way of cutting costs. It should always be a real choice for the workers who want it.” Chief Executive of Work Wise UK, the organiser of National Work From Home Day, Phil Flaxton said: “Nationally, an increasing number of employers and employees are realising that work is an activity we do, rather than a place we go to. Attitudes are changing on how we balance or mix work and lifestyle. Increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional nine-to-five work patterns, to be replaced by a more flexible approach to working from home.”

Artificial Intelligence will enhance talent acquisition, say 96 percent of senior HR professionals. According to new research by global talent acquisition and management firm, Alexander Mann Solutions, 96 percent of senior HR professionals believe that Artificial Intelligence has the potential to greatly enhance talent acquisition and retention. However, concerningly, over half of professionals are not comfortable with the current pace of technological transformation in their talent function, with 57 percent believing the innovation within their organisation is too slow. In fact, despite the belief that Artificial Intelligence will enhance the efficiency of their department, just one in four HR leaders currently use such programmes in their HR or talent acquisition function.

Laurie Padua, Director of Technology and Operations Consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions, commented on the need for a greater focus on innovation; “It is certainly promising to see that an astounding 96 percent of senior HR leaders understand the benefits of utilising Artificial Intelligence in their HR and talent functions. Artificial Intelligence technologies and data analytics tools both hold significant opportunities for candidate sourcing, selection and retention. And with figures from LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Recruiting Survey finding that 46 percent of HR leaders are still struggling to attract candidates in high demand talent pools, it’s clear that organisations which embrace technology will have an edge over their competitors.”

“With the ‘race to innovate’ intensifying across a wide range of professional sectors, and the business benefits of the early adoption of Artificial Intelligence programmes becoming increasingly clear, it is somewhat unsurprising that 57 percent of senior HR professionals are not comfortable with the current pace of transformation within their own function. However figures from our latest insight suggest that there is a disconnect between HR’s willingness to innovate, and tangible adoption of Artificial Intelligence technology. Companies who embrace change and are quick to adopt these technologies will have far greater access to in-demand talent pools, while those who fail to act are likely to fall behind.”

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