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Huge rise in home working revealed

A record number of people are working from home after a huge increase over the past decade, new figures have shown.

There were 4.2 million home workers in the first quarter of the year, around 14% of those in work in Britain, ranging from childminding and care work to managers and senior company officials.

The Office for National Statistics said the total had increased by 1.3 million since records began in 1998.

Around 1.5 million of the total worked from their home while the rest used their house as a base.

Around three quarters of home workers were in some of the highest skilled jobs in the economy, the study found.

Around two thirds of home workers were self employed while a small number worked unpaid in a family business.

Older people are more likely to work from home, according to the ONS research.

The South West has the highest rate of home working at 17% while the lowest was in Scotland (10.7%).

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Improvements in home technology have made home-working an attractive and cheap alternative to costly commutes into the office.

"Home-working also helps those unable to travel - including disabled people or those with caring responsibilities - to stay in work and continue their careers.

"But too many bosses still don't trust staff to work from home and instead force them to trudge into the office so they can keep an eye on them. Employers' attitudes to new working practices must change to make a much better use of modern technology in all workplaces."

Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, said: " The key factors behind the increase are digital technologies which allow people to work at home or to use home as a base while regularly on the move between various work locations, the rise of self-employment with people establishing offices at home, and an ageing population with more older people seeking to avoid the daily commute and the stresses of office life.

"All these factors are likely to further increase home working in the coming decades but one should be wary of forecasts suggesting that the vast majority of people will in the future be mainly working at home. While home working is set to be a far more common feature of the UK's flexible employment landscape, work in the office, at the factory or on the service front line will remain the norm for the vast majority of people."

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