A decade ago remote working had hardly hit the mainstream, yet now it’s an accepted part of the modern world of work.
The latest figures from the ONS Labour Force Survey suggest that over 1.54 million people work from home for their main job - ten years ago that number was 884,000.
Remote working needn’t mean employees are strangers to the office. They might use home as their main base, only coming into the office for meetings. Or they may split their time between office and home or seeing customers. They may spend only occasional days working at home, basing themselves mainly in an office instead.
Although it doesn’t suit every sector, business or role - jobs that require a lot of face-to-face supervision, interaction or collaboration are better off staying office-based - remote working is increasingly growing in popularity.
There’s no denying it: remote working is easier with technology. The days of being restricted to the office as it’s where everything employees need to do their jobs are long gone. Thanks to technological advances like cloud computing, business data is available on smartphones, tablets and laptops - wherever and whenever a team member needs to access it.
Office chit chat, loud phone calls, colleagues randomly dropping by to talk. Not everyone finds it hard to fully focus in an office environment.
In fact, many flexible workers say they can get more work done being away from the usual distractions. Asked about their productivity for one survey, those who worked from home ranked it at 7.7/10 compared with those working in open planned offices giving 6.5/10.
Many people wish their employers would cotton on to remote working. According to the latest State of Workplace Productivity Report, 65% of full-time employees think that being able to work remotely would lead to increased output - even despite the fact that working from home can have its own distractions.
Increasingly, workers starting out - particularly Gen Z born in the mid-90s onwards - view remote working for at least part of their week as a vital career component.
At HR GO, we regularly find that this can in fact make or break whether a candidate decides to accept a job offer. As digital natives, these young people have grown up experiencing technology as a flexible tool rather than something that chains them to one place - so it figures that they expect to work wherever suits them.
Parents and those with caring responsibilities also value the flexibility that comes from remote working and are less likely to look for another role that might not offer this perk.
In reality, few roles suit 100% remote working and in fact research by ACAS has discovered that businesses get the best results with a mix of working from the office and home.
While the sector your business is in may well not be compatible with this amount of flexibility, remote working is here to stay. As the latest State of Workplace Productivity Report found, 38% of employees believe it will be commonplace within the next five years.
So if your business can boost productivity, wellbeing and employee retention along the way, it certainly makes sense to look into a different way of doing things.
See the free ACAS checklist guide for employers on setting up home working: