Last month we looked at "Building Back Better" and focused on some of the implications of working from home and the need for a positive cultural environment. This month the ONS published its study "Homeworking Hours, rewards and opportunities in the UK 2011 to 2021" and it makes for interesting reading, particularly given the potential for more homeworking going forward, either by sheer necessity, employee choice or employer inspired changes to work place.
In 2020 almost 36% of the employed population did some work from home and on average they completed six hours of unpaid overtime each week compared to those that never worked at home who completed 3.6 hour. Interestingly, in the first six months of the pandemic those working from home kept very similar work patterns; however by September 2020 homeworkers had shifted their start times to later in the day, worked until later in the day and took longer breaks during the course of the day than those not working from home. One reason for this shift is explained by the suggestion that as time progressed workers spent the time that they would have been commuting working.
Sickness absence among those working from home was lower than those not working from home. Of course, in a pandemic, this might be explained simply by the fact that working from home did not expose the individual to germs and therefor ill-health, one noted incidence of last winter was the relatively low level of flu infections. Equally, it might well be that where employees would not normally have been willing to endure an arduous commute to work, they were prepared to face the rigours of the journey to the spare room or dining table.
In terms of pay historically those mainly working from home were paid less on average than those who never worked at home. Interestingly in 2020 those who mainly worked from home were paid more on average than those who never worked from home.
It seems inevitable that Working From Home, which was becoming increasingly prevalent, is going to become even more commonplace. This growing phenomenon poses challenges for business. For much of the past decade business has drafted and implemented "Bring your own device" policies to ensure that the businesses data is properly and adequately protected. With the increase in home working employees have become more able to use their own device, in their own home, for work, unseen and unnoticed.
This was perhaps inevitable in the early days of the pandemic and excusable. Reports this week suggest that more than half of employees used collaboration applications or web services which they had obtained albeit with their employer's approval. In addition, the same proportion are using personal devices "to make up for their employers technical shortcomings".
The use of such devices pose obvious problems for employers, increasing the risk of potentially disabling viruses or malware being introduced inadvertently together with the data protection risks posed by the loss of such devices or their inadvertent use and dissemination of personal data by family members.
As the road back to normality begins to open up, now is a good time to reinvigorate / re-educate employees on the need to maintain data security and the need to follow safety protocols.
Originally Published 29 April, 2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.