No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Is teleworking the way forward?


Around a quarter of a million British people joined the teleworking workforce last year, an increase of 19%.

This is one of the key findings of an Institute for Employment Studies (IES) analysis of the recently-released results of the Spring 2000 Labour Force Survey by the Government’s Office of National Statistics.

In Spring 1999, approximately 1.2 million people worked from home in the UK for at least one day per week in their main job, using a computer and a telephone link to their employer or client. One year later, this had increased to 1.5 million, representing 5.5% of the British workforce.

In the words of Ursula Huws, Associate Fellow of IES,
‘With one British worker in seventeen now using the new technology to work from home, teleworking is reaching critical mass. The time has come for some joined-up thinking about the implications of this development for housing policy, transport policy, employment policy and the quality of individual working experience and family life. If it continues to expand in a piecemeal fashion there is a real danger of some sections of society being left out.’

The definition used here covers only people who are dependent on a computer and telecommunications link to work from home. Using a broader definition (ie those who use the technology but could work in this way without it) brings the total up to over 1.8 million, representing 7% of the UK workforce.

Who are the teleworkers?

Seven out of ten teleworkers (69%) are men, despite the fact that men make up little more than half (56%) of the workforce as a whole. Women teleworkers are more likely to be working at home, whilst men are more likely to work from several different locations, using the home as a base.

Over a quarter of all teleworkers (27%) work in the business and financial services sector, with another 25% in the public and voluntary sectors.

Most teleworkers are in senior jobs: 28% are managers, 22% are professionals and 18% are in associate professional or technical occupations.

Compared with the rest of the working population, teleworkers are more likely to be graduates, to be married and to be in mid-career (in their thirties or forties).

What are the trends?

The increase in teleworking in the past year has been proportionally greater among women (at 24%) than men (at 17%).

The fastest expanding teleworking occupation is management, with an increase of 25% in managers working from home.

Growth has been especially strong in the financial services sector, which has seen an increase of 34% in teleworking.

Despite an overall decline of 1% in the numbers of clerical workers in the British workforce, there has been a 12% increase in clerical teleworking.

The 21% increase in working at home has been somewhat greater than that in multi-locational working from a home base, which increased by 15% over the year.

Teleworking is increasing more rapidly amongst employees (at 22%) than the self-employed (at 15%). The self-employed now make up only 44% of teleworkers, compared with 46% in 1999 and 48% in 1998. This is in line with the general decline in self-employment in Britain, which fell by 2.3% in a year in which employment as a whole grew by 1.3%.

The research

IES monitors trends in e-work and analyses the newest evidence as it appears. This analysis was carried out by Ursula Huws, Associate Fellow of IES, together with Nick Jagger (Research Fellow, IES), and Peter Bates (Research Officer, IES).

Acting as a consultant to the UK Government, Ursula Huws was originally responsible for recommending the inclusion of teleworking questions in the Labour Force Survey. Britain remains the only country to monitor the development of teleworking systematically in this way. Ursula Huws is currently directing the EMERGENCE Project which will collect data in 22 countries on global trends in the relocation of employment using information and communications technologies.

Ursula will be speaking at Telework 2000 conference in London, 13-15 September 2000.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!