More than a third of employers in the UK have seen an increase in staff working from home compared with 2022, as the cost of living increases, according to a survey from the conciliation service Acas.
Working from home was a necessity during the pandemic lockdowns, but it is increasingly seen as a way to save money, as transport and food costs rise. Many people also took the opportunity to move further out of cities such as London for cheaper properties and now face a more expensive commute as employers ask them to return to the office.
In the Acas survey of more than 1,000 employers, more than one in seven said there had been a significant increase in their staff working from home.
"The cost-of-living pressures are impacting many people and it is unsurprising that over a third of employers have seen an increase in staff working from home," Acas chief executive Susan Clews said.
"For some workers the cost of commuting is eating into their budgets, while for others going to their workplaces saves on home energy costs.
"It's important for businesses to work with staff to agree suitable ways of working for specific roles, taking account of individual circumstances and regularly reviewing arrangements."
Acas said that home or hybrid working can help companies attract and retain staff who value the flexibility of having a choice whether to work from home or go into an office.
"Our new draft code encourages employers to take a positive approach to flexible working," Ms Clews added.
Procrastination yet productivity
A recent study by the printing company TonerGiant found that almost 20 per cent of homeworkers admitted to taking a short nap during working hours and a quarter indulge in some DIY or gardening.
But Stuart Deavall from TonerGiant said productivity tended not to be affected and that a balance of homeworking and going in to an office was desirable.
“Despite naturally having different behaviours when working from home instead of in the office, studies suggest that performance is not impacted," he said.
"There are many clear benefits of the hybrid model for staff too, with other reports indicating that workers adhering to this model are happier employees.”
This week, one of the symbols of homeworking during the pandemic years, the video-conferencing company Zoom, said it would be adopting "a structured hybrid approach".
Zoom has asked its employees who live within an 80km radius of its offices to work on site two days a week.
Home and hybrid working now seem entrenched in the post-pandemic world. Since January, the average weekly office occupancy rate in 10 major cities in the United States has hovered around 50 per cent, according to Kastle Systems, which uses entry-card swipes to calculate the number of staff in offices.