Working from home in decline, says survey

Despite the view that working remotely helps employees do more with their day, mobile working is actually in decline, according to a study by Microsoft Windows Mobile.

According to a survey of 1,000 UK office workers, the number of people working from home has fallen - possibly because employees prefer to be seen in the office due to job fears brought about my a flagging economy.

The survey found that the number of firms claiming to offer some form of mobile working provisions has dropped by 10 per cent since 2007, to 50 per cent.

A further 13 per cent of respondents said that mobile working was actively discouraged in their workplace, with only 10 per cent of workers in 2008 feeling as if they have the freedom to work remotely.

Business manager at Microsoft James McCarthy said that it was a shame that mobile working was in decline, as it offers benefits to both employer and employee.

"Senior managers seem reluctant to try new things while employees are perhaps understandably adopting a presenteeism mentality in case troubled times arrive," he said. "This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy given that mobile working is shown to help increase productivity, improve worker satisfaction and actively reduce costs, all the things a business needs during uncertain economic conditions."

"Ironically, this economic situation is where people should think about flexible working to maximise productivity. Hopefully when people get their heads round this fact it will happen."

Microsoft Windows Mobile's findings counter figures from the Trade Union Congress, which stated that one in eight people now work from home, totalling 3.5 million home workers.

However, McCarthy stood by Microsoft's findings.

"You're going to find differences with any survey. It depends on who you ask and what your questions are. There's a difference between asking if a company is happy for its employees to work from home and if they have a formal policy on the matter. Although the numbers of home workers is growing they are still effectively a minority."