WFH – it’s the new normal

Working from home has been a novelty for many in the UK during lockdown, but it could be the way ahead, says Kerry Fawcett of Business Comparison.

Link to WFH business tipsWorking from home has been on the rise in recent years, as it helps businesses to cut costs and the workers have a more flexible working day.

COVID-19 has forced many to work from home, as the government orders people to only go out to work if they cannot do so from home.

1.7 million people in the UK mainly work from home, which only accounts for 5% of the 32.6 m workforce.

For some industries, this is a huge challenge, for others, it is becoming the norm – and being able to do so in the current lockdown and recovery phase, may even prevent some companies from going under.

The agency sector is above average in this with 40 per cent having worked from home at some time.

So, as a nation, how used are we to working from home? Which industries and groups work from home the most?

People currently work from home?

Although 8.7 million said that they have worked from home at some point.

The figures have been on the rise in the last five years, as working from home becomes easier and more accepted.

In 2015, 4.3 per cent of people mainly worked from their homes, a number which has steadily grown to 5.1 per cent in 2019, however it will the coronavirus pandemic will bring about a long-term change in attitudes toward home working in coming years.

Top industries working from home

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

For example, industries such as services and hospitality industries – including accommodation and food preparation and transport and storage – report the lowest levels of home working (10 per cent and 11 per cent), which includes people who work on the railways and in hotels, bars and restaurants, who obviously cannot 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.

Link to WFH business tips

35 per cent of people in the South East have worked at home

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

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.

Top 10 do’s and don’ts

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. Here’s a list of suggestions:

  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
  4. Turn off distractions – mobile notifications, TV, etc. and 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 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.

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