Work from home to battle germs

Two-thirds of people would work from home when illness kept them from going to the office, according to a new survey.

The study, by NTL Telewest Business, suggested that the ability to work from home could let workers keep productive even when they come down with a cold.

Stephen Beynon, the firm's managing director, said: "The onset of winter always increases the amount of colds and other minor illnesses, but more flexible working practices can help employer and employee... Of course no-one should work when they're too ill to do so, but it's highly likely that the UK loses millions of pounds every year through sick days taken when people are too ill to travel, rather than necessarily too ill to work."

He added: "Equally, sick workers soldiering on and coming into the office can spread more germs, which can also take a toll on productivity. Increasing the ability to work from home offers employers the opportunity to reduce the productivity impact of sick days when staff are not up to travelling."

Younger people were more willing to work from home with a case of the sniffles, with 71 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds saying they would. But the number dropped with age, as 69 per cent of 35 to 44-year-olds would work from home when ill, but just 34 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds said they would.

The survey of 1,000 Britons over the age of 16 also found that 39 per cent of employees believed that working from home on a regular basis - and therefore commuting less - would mean they would be exposed to fewer germs on public transport or in the office.