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Homeworking hits post-pandemic plateau

People who mainly work from home in the UK plateaued at around one in five people in the three months July-September 2022, according to data from CIPD economists Jonathan Boys and James Cockett.

This is compared with one in 20 people pre-pandemic, though levels vary depending on occupation, age and where they are based in the country.

Speaking to HR magazine, Cockett said: “The implications for HR are vast. At a time of labour shortages, providing more homeworking opportunities could greatly increase the geographical reach of recruitment efforts and appeal to workers that want more flexibility.

“There are challenges too. Many roles cannot be done from home so easily and these may be harder to recruit to.”

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The percentage of professional, managerial and admin occupations mainly working from home spiked between January and December 2021. In 2022 the percentage dipped slightly to just over 30%.

Sales and customer service roles, by comparison, peaked at nearing 15% and declined towards September last year.

Geographically, London and south-east England have the highest percentage of people who mainly work from home.

Workers aged 20-24 had the sharpest decline of all age groups in mainly homeworking since the end of 2021.

Cockett added: “This group, who are early in their careers, could lose out from a lack of face-to-face interaction.”

The percentage of hybrid workers in the UK, however, would be much higher, they noted.

Jill Gates, vice president, culture and people, Europe and Asia at Ensono said she agrees that mainly remote roles aren’t as popular.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Hybrid appears to be the most attractive option to many employers and employees. For employers it allows them to make saving on office capacity requirements, and for employees it gives them the flexibility to mix homeworking benefits with the social elements of office working.”

Hybrid, she added, is a very broad church however, and can vary between two or three days in the office per week for example, or the same per month for others.

She added: “Crucially, clear differences remain across generations. I am still seeing more desire for hybrid office working from millennials and Gen Z, especially where social activities are built in, whereas boomers and Gen X are far less interested.”

Travel disruptions and the cost of living crisis may have also driven people into the office more in 2022, Gates added.

The CIPD's charts on the percentage of people mainly working from home can be found here and here.