Out of Office: Why Are IT Professionals Leaving the Office to Work From Home?

( Post 20 of 25 )

This is a post by Holly, who sometimes writes for us at Computer Recruiter.

ONS figures chart

(Click to enlarge)

Teleworking, remote working, homeworking – whatever you call it, one thing is true: working from home is on the rise in the UK. In Q1 2014, 13.9% of the UK’s total workforce were working remotely. That’s 4.2 million British home workers across the country.

The number of Brits now working from home isn’t just rising, it’s now hitting record figures. Today the UK has more teleworkers than ever before – a rise of 1.9 million since 1998. Although a rise in the number of people in employment plays a part in the surge, the advent of ever-better technology has played a very significant role.

Technology & Remote Working

Increasingly fast and dependable broadband access has made working from home a viable alternative to working in the office. Meanwhile, the development of cloud computing has rendered “the office more accessible than ever before – from any location. Tools, documents, collaborative platforms, SaaS – these crucial tools of the trade can be used from virtually anywhere, at any time, making taking work out of the office easier than ever before.

IT from Home

ONS chart

(Click to enlarge)

According to government data, over two thirds of homeworkers are self-employed. Typically these are highly skilled individuals, earning an above-average hourly wage. A significant proportion of homeworkers are in construction or agriculture, but there’s also a substantial number of remote workers in IT and managerial positions. Amongst British men who reported that they used their home and grounds exclusively for their professional activities (rather than as a “base”), programmers and software developers were the 3rd largest group.

Remote Working Controversy

Marissa Mayer photoAs liberating as home working may seem, it’s not everybody’s favourite working style. For the third of remote workers who are employed by a company, there are a whole host of arguments for and against their professional lifestyle. In 2013, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer famously ordered her staff back into the office, banning remote working. Her rationale? Face-to-face communication and collaboration are essential to a creative, thriving business culture – a benefit she felt the flexibility of home working couldn’t compete with.

Why the Exodus?

But if home working negatively impacts collaboration and creativity, why are IT professionals increasingly upping sticks, investing in a good desk chair and setting up their offices at home?

  • Technology – We’ve already discussed how better broadband and the development of cloud computing have made home working even more feasible. But, for IT professionals, technology also helps them to overcome many of the more negative aspects of teleworking. If Marissa Mayer was concerned about isolation leading to less creativity and communication, the tools and software now available to those in the know should put pay to such qualms. IT workers are especially adept at researching and implementing systems which keep them in touch and collaborative, without needing to leave their (home) office.
  • Flexibility – The days of the traditional 9-to-5 appear to be numbered. Giving employees the freedom to set their own hours is an increasingly popular option, leading to happier staff and more productive businesses, with workers able to login and get stuck in when they’re at their most engaged. For IT professionals who undertake tasks which involve problem solving (particularly programming), this flexibility is great for mulling over problems, then cracking on when the solution strikes. And, contrary to what you may expect, research reveals that people actually work harder for longer at home.
  • Comfort & No Commute – Home comforts are hard to beat, as long as you are sufficiently motivated. A comfortable work environment and no long commute every day can massively increase quality of life, reducing stress and resulting in a far happier, more engaged workforce.

The Benefits of Coworking

There is an in-between, of course…

Welsh ICEFor those who may not fully enjoy working from home (e.g. they find it too distracting or lonely), you could always consider coworking, which is when other remote workers, freelancers and startups work together in the same open-plan space. In addition to having a dedicated place to work out of the house and improved social interactions, it can be great for networking and also for picking the brains of other coworkers if you need advice on something or encounter a problem that could do with a second opinion.

Earlier in the month, we published a list of coworking spaces in South Wales – be sure to check it out if you’re interested in attending a space in the area.

[Image credits – both ONS charts from the ONS website; Marissa Mayer: Wikimedia Commons]