Number of home workers doubles

2005

The number of people working full-time from home in Britain has more than doubled in eight years to almost 2.5 million.

The latest Labour Market Trends report by the Office for National Statistics says that only 921,000 people worked from home in spring 1997 when data were first collected.

But the rapid rise in what the ONS terms "teleworkers" saw them accounting for 2.4 million people in spring 2005, some eight per cent of the UK workforce and double the figure in 1997.

Most of these – 1.8 million in 2005 – work in different locations using their home as a base, whereas 603,000 work mainly at home.

The growth has been strongest among those who work in different locations; they now account for six per cent of all workers compared with two per cent in 1997.

Though self-employed people form a relatively small share of the overall workforce, more than six out of 10 of those working from home (62 per cent) are self-employed.

Their main occupations are what the ONS terms "managers and senior officials" (making up 23 per cent), associate professional and technical (also 23 per cent) and professional (18 per cent).

Home working is most prevalent in the East, London, South East and South West, all at around 10 per cent of all workers. It is lowest in the North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland, all at around six per cent.

Looking at a narrower definition of home workers – those who simply could not work without a computer and telecommunications - the numbers rose from 737,000 in 1997 to 2.1 million in 2005.

The ONS figures exclude those who do not require telecoms and computers to work at home. Taking all home workers into account, the umber rises to 3.1 million.

Last month's Broadband User Survey from research firm Point Topic found that almost 5.5 million Britons now spend some or all of their week working remotely from home and that some 4.3 million households in Britain – 18 per cent of all homes in the country – contain someone working from home.

Point Topic also found that more than twice as many men use the internet for work at home as women.