The number of people working from home has more than doubled when compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to official homeworking statistics for the UK in 2022.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysed homeworking levels between January and March 2022, and compared them to October to December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Homeworking in the UK more than doubled, increasing from 14.5% of workers to 30.6%.
Scotland saw the largest percentage increase in homeworking, the figure tripling (an increase of 203.5%), while Northern Ireland recorded the smallest percentage increase (56.4%).
The regions with the highest percentage of homeworkers in January to March 2022 were London (37.0%, 1.9 million), the South East (36.9%, 1.6 million) and the East of England (31.1%, 903,000).
The lowest proportion of homeworkers were found in Northern Ireland (16.4%, 137,000), the North East (22.4%, 262,000) and Yorkshire and The Humber (26.2%, 668,000).
The UK government first asked people to work from home if they could on 16 March 2020. Guidance and legal requirements on homeworking varied between administrations but England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all ended the legal requirement to work from home at the end of January 2022.
The ONS analysis, which drew data from its Labour Force Survey, classified homeworkers as anyone who reported their main place of work as their own home, the same grounds or building as home, or who mainly worked in different places using home as a base.
The number of people who commuted into a region different to their region of residence for work fell across the UK by 26.1%. The decrease happened in all UK regions but was largest in London (down 36.8%), the South East (-29.1%) and the East Midlands (-21.2%).
Cheney Hamilton, CEO of flexible working recruiter Find Your Flex, said: “In the current jobs market, one thing is certain: flexibility needs to be on the table if employers want to attract the best talent.
“Job vacancies are at an all-time high, and employers that increase their ‘flex appeal’ are offering training to those re-careering and homeworking and flexibility options to experienced hires who increasingly demand it.”
Survey respondents were also asked whether they worked at least one full day from home. Across the UK, in January to March 2022, 14.3% of people who did not mainly work from said they worked from home at least one day in the reference week. This figure was highest in London (24.3%) and lowest in the East Midlands (9.1%).
Paul Clark, senior vice president at video conferencing provider Poly, said: “If organisations want to make hybrid ‘work’ they need to have a fresh look at the office – 77% of organisations are redesigning their offices to add more open plan areas, collaboration spaces and areas to socialise. Nearly a third (30%) are planning to reduce the number of desks.”
Personnel Today July 2022