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Working from home has never been more in the news. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been felt in every area of our daily lives, with an increase in home-based jobs likely to be just one of the consequences. However, thanks to developments in technology, working from home in recent years was already becoming more much common in certain industries. Data taken in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that approximately 1.7 million people in the UK had home-based jobs. These individuals working from home accounted for roughly 5% of the UK’s entire 32.5 million workforce and was up from 4.3% in 2015. Studies have shown that working from home can increase productivity, reduce staff turnover and lower related business running costs. It is predicted that more job seekers will seek home-based jobs in the future, thereby increasing the number and type of employers that allow working from home.
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In the past, the types of jobs and employers that would let you to work from home tended to be focused on certain industries. In 2019, working from home was most common in the information and communication sectors, with around 14% of all employees in these areas having home-based jobs, and with nearly 50% having experienced working from home at some point. These sectors were closely followed by the science and professional industries with roughly 12% of workers in these areas working from home on a regular basis. Regarding what positions these people working from home held, senior officers, managers and directors were most likely to have home-based jobs (10%), followed by professional and technical roles (8%) and administrative positions (6%). Employers that allow working from home can also be found in the computer, IT, education & training, customer services, data entry and transcription industries.
In the future, it is likely there will be increasing opportunities for people to work from home as more and more businesses begin to put the necessary infrastructure in place. Whilst home-based jobs will still be difficult in some industries, such as manufacturing, other sectors such as traditional office-based companies, are likely to begin offering more working from home opportunities to staff.
What you will need to effectively work from home will depend largely on your specific role. However, in general, the following equipment could be considered vital for the majority of home-based jobs:
- Computer – laptop or desktop
- Phone – smartphone and landline if possible
- Good Wi-Fi signal
- Any apps or programs required by your employer to enable video calls, conferencing and access to any shared databases.
For the majority of people working from home, the above is often enough to enable them to work effectively. A designated workspace and detailed work schedule are also very useful for people in home-based jobs, as are regular virtual ‘group’ meetings online that allow people to interact and still feel part of a bigger team. For some employers that allow working from home, specialist equipment may be required, such as for graphic designers, whilst more general office equipment such as printers and fax machines may also be needed.
As you can imagine, there are numerous pros and cons to working from home. One advantage to home-based jobs is that they provide increased flexibility over your daily schedule. You can run errands and take care of appointments much easier when working at home, as well as choose when and where you work each day. Another pro to working at home is that you will likely get more done, with employers that allow working from home regularly reporting increases in productivity. There are many different reasons for this increase in work, including there being less meetings and distractions, as well as eliminating what can often be an expensive, stressful and time-consuming commutes.
However, there are also cons to working from home that must be considered. Firstly, home-based jobs provide no physical separation between work and non-work time, making it difficult to know when to switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ during the day. Furthermore, whilst there are no office distractions, you will likely find many new home-based interruptions, and it can be hard for people new to working from home to ignore such familiar distractions. Another disadvantage to home-based jobs can be that communication is sometimes less clear. It is of course much easier to understand someone when you are face-to-face with them in a room, but when done ‘virtually’ things can at times become less obvious. However, this is beginning to change as technology improves, with speaking to someone ‘virtually’ becoming much more natural.