The number of Britons working from home has grown by nearly a third in 11 years, exclusive figures released to Homes & Property reveal. More than four million of us now work from a kitchen table, home office or garden shed.
Data from the Office for National Statistics for the Live/Work Network, a consultancy for home-based businesses, shows two-thirds of homeworkers are men and that new tecnologies are driving the change, with people able to do at home everything they previously did in an office — except socialising.
Tim Dwelly, director of the Live/Work Network, said technological improvements had enabled more people to work from home. “Aside from seeing people and socialising, one of the main reasons for going into an office was that the office was kitted out for work. Technology has been the game changer. Now your home office can be of even higher quality," he said.
London has 521,122 homeworkers, which is more than one in eight of its workforce, according to the Live/Work Business Briefing 2013.
The government and some corporations, like BT, allow staff to work from home at least part of the time, but most home-workers are self-employed people, the report shows. By the end of 2012, there were 2.52 million architects, translators, stock traders and other professionals and tradesmen running a business from home.
“Self-employed home-workers are the fastest growing part of the UK workforce,” said Dwelly, “Over the last 11 years their number rose by 33 per cent.”
Levels of home-working and self-employment are highest in affluent areas. South East England has the most homeworkers in Britain - a total of 706,428 people - which is 16.33 per cent of the regional workforce. The most home-based businesses, the report reveals. Working from home allows self-employed people to cut out the costs of commuting, paying for workspace, and child care sharing.
Photographer Alex Wilson sold his Shepherd's Bush studio four years ago to work from his house in Kew, slashing £20,000 from his annual overheads.
“The overwhelming benefit for me was the huge savings in time and money. And I help out with child care," said Wilson. “I am glad to see the back of an unbelievable amount of red tape connected with running a studio which added to costs, such as £300 to service fire extinguishers every year.”
In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, 19.02 per cent of workers are home-based and self-employed, the highest proportion in the capital, and double the London average. Bottom of the table Newham, has only 2.25 per cent of workers running a business from home.