New research from the TUC found that 1.52 million employees classed themselves as working from home in 2015, up 241,000 (19 percent) on 2005 figures.
Almost two-thirds of home workers were in their forties and fifties, with IT, agriculture and construction the most frequently cited sectors. The south west and the east of England saw the highest penetration of home working, with Northern Ireland lagging behind – just one in 48 employees there regularly worked from home.
However, the TUC suggested take-up of home working was tailing off. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said there was still scepticism about the practice in many quarters.
“Many employers still don’t trust their staff to work from home and force them to make unnecessary time-consuming trips into the office so they can keep an eye on them,” she said. “Employers need to take a more enlightened approach to home working as it can benefit business, the workforce and the wider economy.”
O’Grady said the option to work from home is good for the economy as it “increases productivity, helps businesses hold on to talented staff, and allows people with caring responsibilities or a disability to access the labour market”.
When the self-employed and other members of the labour market are included, the total number of those working from home reached more than four million, up by more than half a million since 2007.
The biggest growth in home working, across both employees and the wider population, has been seen among women.
The employment rate for women reached 69.2 percent in March, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, the ONS said. Overall, the number of people in work has reached a record 31.5 million, according to this week’s figures, marking an employment rate of 74.2 percent.