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It is reported that approximately 8% of workers worked from home in 2008, and this had risen to 12.5% in 2009.  Anecdotal evidence suggests these figures are increasing and are set to continue to risk with the recent widening of flexible working rights.

Home working can have a number of benefits including retaining skills, reducing overhead costs, increasing productivity by sparing the employee travelling time, and improved motivation.  Despite these clear benefits, there are a number of potential concerns and drawbacks: employers have reported damage to team working or the team culture, the home worker may feel lonely or bored without interaction with colleagues, there could be an over dependency on technology and increased costs of equipment.  On one hand, some employers fear that a home worker may not necessary pull their weight.  However, on the other hand, some employees find it difficult to know when to stop working.

In view of this, employers are encouraged to carefully consider a home working request, before agreeing to such an arrangement.  Employers will also need to consider the practicalities of home working; are changes needed to the employee’s contract of employment? Place of work, hours of work, salary and benefits, expenses, reporting sickness etc.

If you are considering entering into a home working arrangement with an employee, please contact your usual HR consultant.  Your consultant can support you with a range of practical issues such as amending contracts of employment, consideration in respect of protecting confidentiality and personal data, arranging the management and supervision of the home worker etc.

In recognition of increasing numbers of homeworkers, ACAS have recently published a new guide on homeworking:

You can access the guide here

Jessica Allan, Senior HR Consultant, Alcumus Group