Home working

Home working is becoming increasingly commonplace. Analysis by the TUC indicates that the number of people working from home in the UK increased by 13% between 2008 and 2013.

In this article we share some pros and cons of homeworking and suggest practical tips for home based working.

Types of home working

Home workers tend to fall into one of two categories:

  • Employees who work from home either occasionally, part-time or full-time.
  • Self-employed people who run their business from a home office.

Support for home working

Flexible working solutions - such as working from home - are being supported by more and more employers, encouraged by the UK government. Technologies such as email, smartphones, broadband internet, remote desktop applications, and videoconferencing have made home working increasingly possible and affordable.

Advantages of home working

Some of the key advantages of home working include:

  • Reduced commute times between home and work. Avoiding long commutes can free up time and reduce travel costs.
  • Improved work/life balance. It can be easier to combine work with caring commitments.
  • Reduced overheads for self-employed workers who wish to save money on renting office space.
  • Fewer distractions. Not being in the office can mean fewer queries and less office chat - making it easier to get more work done.
  • Greater flexibility. Home working can mean flexible and responsive working hours.
  • Control over the environment such as lighting and heat - and home comforts.

Disadvantages of home working

Some of the main disadvantages of working from home include:

  • Without a journey to work the daily routine can become reclusive and sedentary.
  • Reduced work/life balance. It's easy to lack discipline when dividing work time from home time.
  • Extra costs such as home office supplies or a fast internet connection.
  • More distractions. Working from home can mean family or neighbours making demands on you when you're trying to work.
  • Reduced visibility. Home working may reduce your access to opportunities such as promotion - or you could be seen as 'bunking off'.
  • The absence of social contact can lead to feelings of isolation and lack of support. It can also mean less networking and missing out on informal information sharing.

Tips on home working

Here are six practical tips for homeworking:

  • Set your business hours. Decide when you will start and stop work - and stick to it. It's important to draw a line between work time and home time.
  • Define a home office space. Only use your office space during working hours. It's important to distinguish between work space and home space.
  • Agree boundaries with family members or housemates. Agree when and how you can be interrupted while working from home.
  • Set up face-to-face meetings. Networking over lunch or coffee can give you a change of scene - along with some human contact - and keep you in the loop.
  • Join a group that interests you. Belonging to a group which meets locally - or on social media such as LinkedIn - can help you to share ideas, network and relax.
  • Check your legal obligations regarding public liability insurance, health and safety, data protection, business rates, and business expenses. Your obligations can vary depending on how you use your home for business.