MT Expert - IT: Do your home work

On National Work from Home Day, Mick Hegarty of BT Business on the benefits for employers.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

On National Work from Home Day, it is safe to say that the uptake of remote working practices has rocketed in recent times. In the last year, a growing number of businesses have offered staff the opportunity to work from home as they seek to reduce overhead costs and increase productivity. Today nearly one in eight of the population work from home - that's about 3.5m people.

Businesses have supported this change in working patterns: nearly three quarters (72%) of the UK’s small and medium sized businesses already offer some form of home working, and 2.5m businesses operate completely out of home - a 16% increase in the last year. This growing body of evidence demonstrates that the benefits of remote working to both employees and employers can’t be ignored, especially in the current climate.

BT Business research, launched this week, sought to understand the role that remote working is playing in the current climate. It revealed that over half of employees (55%) are working from home more often than prior to the downturn. Taking a closer look into the reasons behind this shift, the majority (88%) of respondents pointed to the need to save money as being the main motivator for staying away from the office.

The research revealed that the cost of travelling to, and working in, the office really can add up. For example, almost a third (31%) of respondents estimated that they can save around £250 per year, just because they no longer need to buy as many work clothes. Meanwhile, travel is a significant outlay for almost every UK household, particularly as we have seen petrol and train ticket prices climb even higher in recent years. It is no surprise then that nearly half of respondents believe they can save £10-£20 per day by not travelling to work.

Clearly, anything employers can do to help staff morale in the current climate will be appreciated, and offering staff the chance to save money via flexible working is becoming a powerful incentive. In fact, according to BT research, one in three UK workers would choose flexible working options ahead of a pay rise.

With the right technology and knowhow, businesses of all sizes can reap the rewards of smarter working practices. To help businesses on their way, we have created the Remote Manager’s Toolkit in conjunction with a panel of working experts, and written by the Centre for Future Studies. It is available for free at

Celebrating remote working and spotlighting best practice is an important part of managing this cultural shift in working patterns in the UK. And, we’re encouraging businesses across the UK to enter this year’s BT Business Home Business Award category in the Remote Workers Award.

National Work from Home Day today is the perfect opportunity for employers and employees to experience the benefits firsthand.

Mick Hegarty is strategy and commercial director of BT Business.

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