Home working is rocketing in popularity.
Fuel prices, congestion, better telecommunications technology and corporate policies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions are all leading to employers becoming increasingly willing to allow employees to work from home.
Even Government departments are getting in on the act.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has become the first government department, and public sector organisation, to be awarded the Work Wise Mark of Excellence.
The Mark of Excellence recognises Defra’s achievements in introducing smarter working practices, such as home working, flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), and mobile and remote working.
Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise, congratulated the department’s achievement.
“Many forward thinking organisations, such as Defra, are realising that the nature of work is changing and that they need to adapt and evolve to be able to recruit and retain the staff they need," he said.
According to the quarterly Company Car Trends survey by GE Capital Solutions, Fleet Services, 94.5% of fleet decision makers said that home working is reducing the number of business miles travelled – up by 19.4% year on year.
Rich Green, managing director at GE Capital Solutions, Fleet Services, said: “Employers are struggling to keep on top of these price rises and one of the best solutions open to them is simply to tell their company car drivers to stay at home more often.
"Not covering the miles to your office saves money.
“Employees can be as productive at home as at the office, perhaps even more so with the time they save and the stress they avoid by not having to deal with the congestion seen in almost everyone’s daily commute.”
According to the AA, its 300 home working employees are saving 90,000 litres of fuel or 620,000 miles commuting each year by working from home.
“Home workers can do a split shift which covers the busiest times on the road in the morning and evening peak.
“In transport terms home working cuts out the commute, reduces congestion and carbon emissions.
Hopefully other companies will follow the AA lead to put more workers on the superhighway rather than the actual highway now that the technology is much more affordable,” said Edmund King, AA president said:
BT has been pioneering the introduction of smarter working practices for over a decade, but it is not only the environment that has been benefitting.
BT currently has 13,590 registered homeworkers, which has resulted in accommodation savings of £40 million per year.
Smarter working has resulted in an average of 15% and up to 31% productivity gains, with sick absence reduced to 1% on average and staff retention significantly improved – 99% returners from maternity leave versus the national average of 70%, said a BT spokesman.