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Businesses look to increase home working

The number of businesses planning to increase home working for staff has risen according to the latest official figures. In late May 2024, around one in five (19%) businesses said they either had or were intending to raise the number of staff who are working from home, with more than half citing the reduction in business overheads as their reason for the change.

Home working has become more popular since Covid, as more people realise the flexibility it offers them, and companies realised how much could be saved by allowing staff to work offsite. The largest number of respondents to the ONS Business Insights and the Impact on the Economy survey that were looking to increase home working were in London, with 28.8% of businesses there saying they wanted to move or had moved in that direction. The lowest number was in Northern Ireland, where just 19.2% of the companies surveyed said they had or planned to increase the number of staff working from home.

What does a shift to home working bring?

For many employees, homeworking provides a much better way to run their lives. They tend to have more flexibility around what they can do and when – such as fitting in a school run around online meetings – and will often be more productive as a result. After all, there is no-one to have a chat with at the water cooler in the office.

However, for others, the downside of homeworking means they lose out on social interaction that they crave, and it can be difficult for some people to ‘switch off’ from work. This is something that needs to be regimented, otherwise employees can suffer from burnout, and become less effective at their job.

For employers, there are lower overheads as they need to provide less office or other workspace for their employees, which can create big savings for a business. That said, employers still have a responsibility to ensure their employees have a good working environment, and this could include providing good-quality office furniture, such as desks and chairs, to ensure they are not at risk of injury. Employees must also do what they can to prevent injury in the same way as they would if they were in an office environment. More information can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

What can I expect from my employer if I work from home?

Remote working has its benefits for both the employer and the employee, but there is a lot to consider on both sides if this is put into practice. For example, it will be harder for an employer to see if you are becoming excessively stressed or overloaded by work, so good communication is vital.

Being open with your employer if you are overburdened or feel stressed is essential, because otherwise they will not know and would be unlikely to help. Keeping in regular contact with your employer and colleagues will help to keep things on an even keel and will ensure you have social interaction during the working day. It may be tempting to hide any excessive stress from an employer when you are working from home, but this won’t help either party at the end of the day. So, be upfront – your employer has the same obligations for your health and wellbeing outside of a site office as it would inside one.

One thing to also consider is whether you need to update your home insurance to cover you for working from home. Usually, you don’t need to change your insurance unless you have people coming to your home for meetings or to buy products. If you are simply doing office work from your home, the chances are you won’t need to change anything. But check with your insurer, just in case. Remember, you may have more expensive equipment in your home supplied by your employer, so you should at the very least make sure this is covered on a policy.

If you need to pay any extra in insurance, then you can ask your employer to pay this additional premium for you. You may also be able to claim some tax relief even as a PAYE employee for using your home for work, such as the cost of electricity related to work activities. This is all worth checking with your accountant as these bills can add up.

We can help you

If you are an employer or employee who is considering increasing the amount of home working you or your staff do, then please get in touch with us and we would be happy to help you identify additional savings and costs that could be created as a result.