December 19th: the future of home working is not clear cut
Question asked: “Is your business using, or intending to use, increased homeworking as a permanent business model going forward?”
In the latest survey (which added a new category, “not applicable”, to the possible answers), only 16% of businesses (weighted by employment) said that they intend to use homeworking as a permanent part of their business model. Thoughout the various waves of the same survey (since September 2020), the proportion of businesses answering “yes” has stayed pretty stable between 15% to 20%.
In the meanwhile, the sectoral distribution of the responses is illuminating and stark (and has also shown a similar pattern across all surveys — not surprisingly, given the feasibility of remote work in different jobs and sectors). In the UK, professional, scientific and technical services, and information and communication services, seem to be in a league of their own. They are the only two sectors where a majority of businesses are either clear that homeworking is part of their future, or are not yet sure.
I may be too much of a stickler for accuracy, but I wish more of the commentators and policy makers made it clear that, when they are talking about working from home, this only applies to a small part of the population.