The Remote Working Report

posted by 3 years ago in Covid-19

Working from home is something which been steadily on the rise in the last few years, but the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has seen many forced to work from home for the first time ever, with the government ordering people to only go out to work if they cannot do so from home.

For some industries, this will prove to be a huge challenge, but for others, it has increasingly become the norm in recent years, and being able to do so could even prevent some companies from going under.

So, as a nation, how used are we to working from home? And which industries and groups work from home the most? We’ve analysed figures from the Annual Population Survey (APS) to find out.

How Many People Currently Work from Home?

The data shows that around 1.7 million people in the UK mainly work from home, which may seem like quite a large figure, although it only accounts for about 5% of the country’s 32.6 million workforce, although 8.7 million said that they have worked from home at some point.

These figures have definitely been on the rise in the last five years or so though, as working from home becomes easier and more accepted.

In 2015, 4.3% of people mainly worked from home, which has steadily grown to 5.1% in 2019, however it will be interesting to see whether the coronavirus pandemic brings about a long-term change in attitudes toward home working in the coming years.

Which Industries Work from Home the Most?

Industry Mainly Work from HomeHave Ever Worked from Home
Information and communication 14.8% 53.1%
Prof, scientific, technical activ. 12.8% 46.3%
Real estate activities 12.3% 40.3%
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 8.6% 39.0%
Financial and insurance activities 5.2% 38.9%
Education 2.7% 38.3%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 9.9% 33.3%
Other service activities 7.8% 30.3%
Electricity, gas, air cond supply 4.9% 29.6%
Public admin and defence 2.6% 29.4%
Extraterritorial organisations 4.6% 27.8%
Construction 3.8% 25.9%
Mining and quarrying 5.7% 24.8%
Admin and support services 5.6% 23.2%
Manufacturing 3.9% 21.1%
Water supply, sewerage, waste 1.9% 20.4%
Health and social work 3.9% 20.3%
Households as employers 10.8% 19.5%
Wholesale, retail, repair of vehicles 3.2% 13.4%
Transport and storage 1.8% 11.0%
Accommodation and food services 2.1% 10.0%

The extent to which people can and do work from home clearly varies quite a lot from one industry to the next. 

For example, industries such as accommodation and food services and transport and storage report the lowest levels of home working (10% and 11%), which includes people who work on the railways and in hotels, bars and restaurants, who obviously cannot really work from home and these are the industries that could struggle in the coming weeks and months.

At the other end of the scale, we see that in sectors such as information and communication, more than half of workers have worked from home at some point.

Which Jobs Work from Home the Most?

Occupation Mainly Work from Home Have Ever Worked from Home
Chief Executives and Senior Officials 8.9% 69.2%
Media Professionals 20.5% 58.1%
Artistic, Literary and Media Occupations 23.7% 57.8%
Teaching and Educational Professionals 3.8% 57.8%
Health and Social Services Managers and Directors 2.5% 57.0%
Functional Managers and Directors 13.2% 56.1%
Legal Professionals 5.4% 55.7%
IT and Telecommunications Professionals 11.4% 55.0%
Business, Research and Administrative Professionals 8.0% 54.8%
Research and Development Managers 2.7% 54.8%

Looking at the top ten jobs which work from home the most, it definitely seems that those in high-skilled occupations are much more likely to have the ability to work from home, with occupations such as Chief Executives (69.2%) and Media Professionals (58.1%) working from home the most.

Note that some occupations see high levels of working from home, but low numbers of people saying they ‘mainly’ work from home, such as teachers, who obviously mainly work away from their home, but will also regularly carry out work such as marking and planning from home.

Region Mainly Work from Home Have Ever Worked from Home
South East 6.8% 34.9%
London 5.5% 32.1%
South West 6.4% 31.2%
East Midlands 4.4% 28.8%
Northern Ireland 3.8% 18.6%
East of England 5.5% 25.4%
Wales 4.4% 24.9%
Yorkshire and The Humber 4.6% 23.7%
North West 4.2% 21.5%
West Midlands 4.3% 21.3%
North East 3.5% 20.5%
Scotland 4.0% 19.6%
Total 5.1% 26.7%

Home working is much more common in the South, particularly in the South East, where 34.9% have worked from home. That’s twice as many as in Northern Ireland, where just 18.6% of the workforce have done so.

How Old Are Home Workers?

Age Group Mainly Work from Home Have Ever Worked from Home
16-19yrs 1.0% 3.1%
20-24yrs 1.4% 10.4%
25-29yrs 1.8% 20.9%
30-34yrs 3.5% 25.6%
35-39yrs 4.5% 29.6%
40-44yrs 5.7% 33.3%
45-49yrs 5.7% 33.8%
50-54yrs 6.1% 30.7%
55-59yrs 6.6% 28.8%
60-64yrs 7.6% 26.4%
65-69yrs 14.4% 32.8%
70 and over 23.1% 42.2%

Younger workers are far less likely to have worked from home, with those under 30 showing the lowest number of workers who have ever worked from home.

On the other hand, the opposite is true of those who have continued to work past retirement age, with almost a quarter of over 70s who are still in work doing so from home.

Working from Home Tips

If you, like many others at the moment, are working from home for the first time, it can take a bit of getting used to and it can be difficult to motivate yourself as you normally would in the office.

That’s why Business Comparison reached out to Twitter users to find out how others are making the most of their time working from home.

  1. Write a ‘To Do’ list the night before.
  2. Tackle the worst job first – eat the frog! 
  3. Work in 25-minute chunks with a five-minute break – Utilise the Pomodoro effect and consider the Focus Keeper App. 
  4. Turn off distractions – mobile notifications, TV, etc. & give yourself a reward, crème egg or make a decent coffee after achieving something. 
  5. Utilise online chat – eg Microsoft Teams or Zoom for face to face, so you feel connected and in charge. Don’t just rely on email to communicate, use the phone too.
  6. Get dressed – you don’t need to wear a suit but avoid sitting in your PJs all day.
  7. Choose your environment carefully – avoid lounging on the sofa. Experiment with locations around the house if you don’t have a dedicated office.
  8. Walk/Exercise – break up your day with some fresh air.
  9. Time block your diary – as if you were in the office at meetings or working to a schedule.
  10. Set boundaries – beware of your working day blurring into your home life.

– Rebecca Newenham –

“My advice is find your own space for working if at all possible. Even a small corner. Pack away when you’re finished for that mental ‘closure’. Work set hours if at all possible and get ‘ready’ – for me that’s hair, make-up, clothes.”

– Victoria Moffatt

“I used to work from home when freelancing (for over a year). Find what works for you! I loved creating my ‘home office’, using a spare room, but not everyone has one! I had my ‘work mug’ which I used only when working.”

– Hana Bednarova