A new analysis of data from the UK Labour Force
Survey shows a continued rise in the number of
people working mainly from home*.
At the end of 2009, 12.8% of the workforce (3.7
million people) worked mainly at or from home. This
is a 21% increase since 2001.
The region with the highest level of homeworking
is the South West, at 15.6%, followed by the South
East (15.2%) and the East of England (14%).
The lowest levels are in Scotland (9.8%), North
East of England (10.1%) and the North West and
Northern Ireland (11%).
The link with self-employment
Despite the increasing numbers of companies
offering their employees the chance to work from
home, around two-thirds of homeworkers are
self-employed. This is probably part of the
explanation of the difference between regions, with
areas that have lower levels of self-employment
likely also to have less homeworking.
Homeworking is more prevalent in rural areas in
the UK. At the end of 2009, 18.88% of the rural
workforce was working at/from home, compared to
the urban workforce. The proportion of rural workers
who are self-employed homeworkers is 12.24%, almost
double the urban figure of 6.75%. At least
two-thirds of rural homeworkers are self-employed.
London is the main exception to this rule, where
13.6% of the workforce are homeworkers. In
London, some 16.3% of the workforce are
Between 2001 and 2009, the number of home-based
businesses (self-employed and mainly working from
home) rose by 22% (2.3 million people in 2009).
What about employees?
The figure for self-employment excludes those who
run limited companies from home. Many previously
self-employed people have chosen to run their
businesses as registered companies in the last ten
years. A study on freelancing in 2009 for the
Professional Contractors Group by Kingston
University found that the number of freelancers
(self-employed, plus directors of limited companies
with no employees, plus freelancers working under a
PAYE umbrella company) was around 4 million people,
and grew 20% between 1998 and 2008 (Kitching &
Around 5% of employees in the
workforce work mainly from home. And this
includes a proportion of those who are freelancers
(etc) who have set themselves up as a company.
However, the number of employees who work part of
the time from home is now at around the 20% mark.
We expect this to be an area of substantial future
growth as more employees work part-time from home,
and some who now work part-time increase the number
of days they spend away from the office.
provide further analysis of this in the weeks ahead.
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* The analysis was carried out as part of the
Workhubs study, supported by the UK Department
of Communities and Local Government, the Homes &
Communities Agency, Commission for Rural
Communities, Advantage West Midlands and South East
of England Development Agency.