Research by fibre broadband provider Gigaclear has found that the working-at-home-capital of the UK is Oxfordshire, where a quarter of employees (25%) now work from home and half spend an equal amount of time between their own homes and a shared office. More than 85% of these homeworkers said that they had become more productive as a result, with a third saying their productivity had more than doubled.
Gigaclear says that benefits accrue to both workers and employers. Workers appreciate the time saved commuting (41%), the flexible working hours (36%) and fuel cost savings (35%), but also report they are more productive due to taking fewer breaks (38%), being able to start work earlier (38%) and producing better work (26%).
Over 90% of respondents said that homeworking had a positive effect on their mental and physical health as they felt more relaxed (38%), more in control (27%), less stressed (24%) and less anxious (21%), meaning that 67% took less time off work due to sickness and stress.
It’s notable that Oxfordshire has a large number of professional and knowledge workers, and has a significant rural district. The good quality of life provided in rural areas has traditionally come at the cost of a significant commute. But that is set to change with the introduction of better connectivity both here and nationwide.
James Lowther, CMO at Gigaclear, says: “A good internet connection…has a huge impact on all aspects of our lives, from helping support a healthy work-life balance and boosting productivity, to giving us the freedom to work remotely when we need to.”
Gigaclear’s study also found that rather than being a nice-to-have perk, homeworking is increasingly becoming one of the key demands of workers. In Oxfordshire over 40% of workers say they would be put off applying for a job if they couldn’t work from home and 65% have turned down a job because of the commute.
Other top UK regions for homeworking included rural counties such as Warwickshire (20%), Norfolk (18%) and Hampshire (17%). However, amongst the areas with the lowest levels of homeworking are Scottish and Northern counties such as Yorkshire (6%), Lancashire (6%), Aberdeenshire (5%) and Lanarkshire (7%).
Part of the reason for these lower rates is to do with lower levels of good quality connectivity, but also because professional and knowledge workers from these regions tend to move closer to cities. By improving connectivity and encouraging more homeworking, the North and Scotland have the opportunity to retain more valuable knowledge workers, boost their local economies and benefit the environment. It is to be hoped that the Conservative government’s plan to boost infrastructure spending in the North includes improving connectivity for rural and semi-rural areas and smaller towns, as well as for the major cities.
Research into the working habits of 2,000 UK office workers, commissioned by Gigaclear, 2019.