UK economic woes encourage working from home

With the economic downturn hitting UK workers hard, many employees are working from home to save money on clothes and transport

Increasing numbers of recession-hit Brits are choosing to work from home in order to save cash, a new report has found.

More than half (55 percent) of employees are working from home more frequently since the financial crisis began, according to research commissioned by BT Business. The vast majority (88 percent) said their main reason for doing so is the need to save money.

The most widely cited financial saving associated with working from home is not having to 'look the part' for the office — cited by 83 per cent of survey respondents. Almost a third of respondents think they can save around £250 per year by not buying smart work clothes.

Cutting down on commuting by regularly working from home has the potential to save even more cash, with almost half of respondents claiming they can make savings of between £10 and £20 per day by not travelling to their workplaces. Other significant savings associated come from not having to buy lunch, lattes and expensive vending machine snacks.

Nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of respondents believe they are generally financially better off because they have the flexibility to work from home, the survey found.

But fatter wallets are not the only benefit of flexible working: home workers get the luxury of more time as they roll out of bed and sit at their desks.

According to research commissioned by networking company Avaya, Europeans spend around a fortnight sitting in traffic or on a rush-hour train.

The poll of more than 3,500 employees in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK found the average commute time is 70 minutes per day. The most common mode of transport is the car, used by 60 percent of respondents for getting to work.

The research also found the majority (66 percent) of workers are able to work a proportion of each week flexibly and their work/life balance is most likely to benefit as a result.

The largest proportion (56 percent) said they spent time with their family with the time saved by not commuting. Time is also spent just 'relaxing' (45 percent); and 42 percent do tasks or attend appointments they otherwise wouldn't have time for.

A healthy quarter said they use the time for exercise and fifth do more work. Nineteen percent take on the school run.

Even so, the vast majority of European workers have to do a traditional commute sometimes — just nine percent never have to commute.

On 15 May, the not-for-profit organisation Work Wise UK is sponsoring 'National Work From Home Day', part of its Work Wise Week to raise awareness of the benefits of smarter working practices.