Post and plumbers come first for UK workers

More than 1.4m British workers are chucking sickies to be at home for deliveries and service providers. But how long till they're home in the first place anyway?

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Market research firm OnePoll reckons 28% of the workers it surveyed take a day off work as holiday, and 20% work from home, in order to be around for those crucial little events, like home deliveries or a visit from the Sky man. Londoners are most likely to use sick leave as an excuse to stay at home, those cheeky sods. Fewer than one in 100 admit to doing so in the South West.

This survey was commissioned by Trimble, a GPS provider, clearly to promote its own business. It’s saying that if you use such a service you can pin deliveries down much more accurately, enabling you to schedule your time around it better. But that still doesn’t explain people’s behaviour: why not just take deliveries at the weekend or get the neighbours to sort it out? It makes you wonder how people like Dolly Parton managed in the days of the proper nine-to-five. Maybe that era ended with the arrival of play.com?

Perhaps the best solution to office absenteeism may be staring business owners in the face. According to a study by consultant Advanced Workplace Associates, major employers are starting to introduce informal working from home (we gather ‘informal’ here means letting people stay home on an ad hoc basis, rather than issuing company PJs and smoking jackets and telling people to ‘go wild’). The survey covered 10 organisations including Barclays, Unilever, Nationwide and the Civil Service and found they were open to letting people work from home to reduce sickness and absence and inspire higher morale.

So where’s that going? The AWA predicts ‘a future where more than four million people – about 10% of the current work-force – will work at home on a formal basis’. It also said the ‘smartest organisations’ are working on an employee-to-desk ratio of 15:10, cutting costly office space by as much as 40%.

The future, it seems, is remote. But what effect will this have on a business’ image? It may well give owners’ egos a beating. Data released by serviced office provider officebroker.com has found that 62% of businesses overestimate the size of the office they’ll need – and that that’s largely down to the ego of the owner, who’s often ‘unhappy to concede the real scope of their company’. How will they feel when their company is just a desk, a PC and an internet connection? You know what they say about bosses with small offices…

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