More than 2.2 million people work at home online at least one day a week, according to a report in the latest Labour Market Trends from the Office of National Statistics. This figure accounts for 7.4 percent of the entire workforce.
In 1993 there were only 130,000 people teleworking, or half a percent of the workforce. A year later this figure jumped to 560,000. Teleworking statistics were first introduced in the Labour Force Survey in 1997 and have grown by an average of 13 percent a year. Over the period 1997 to 2001, the total increase in teleworking is up by between 65 and 70 percent, with further growth predicted.
The majority of teleworkers are men (67 percent), while they make up only 53 percent of the workforce. Teleworkers are predominately from the following industry groups: professional; managerial and senior officials; and associate professional and technical. Although the self-employed are strongly represented among teleworkers, their share is decreasing.
International comparisons show that teleworking in the UK is just above the average for ten EU countries covered by a recent survey. Germany and France have the smallest proportion of employed people working as teleworkers, while Finland has the highest proportion.
There has been an even higher growth rate in the USA than in the UK. Around 28 million Americans, about 21 percent, are now teleworking, up 18 percent on the previous year.
Looking ahead, new technologies are expected to make it even easier to work remotely and will increase the number of occupations and industries which are able to offer teleworking opportunities. These technologies include broadband Internet connections, which are becoming more and more popular and affordable, and multimedia mobile phones with improved Internet access.