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Remote workers spend more hours on the job, finds ONS

The study also found that employees working from home earn more and had a lower sickness rate

People working from home during the pandemic spent more time at their job and were less likely to be promoted or receive a bonus, but their average pay was 20% higher.

That's according to the ONS, which has been studying the shift to remote work throughout the pandemic. It found that there’s been a 9.4% increase of people who have completed some work at home, rising to 35.9% of the working population, between 2019 and 2020.

According to the study, those who completed any work from home did six hours of unpaid overtime on average per week in 2020, compared with 3.6 hours for those that never work from home. 

Homeworkers were more likely to work in the evenings too and were less than half as likely to be promoted than all other workers between 2012 and 2017. Moreover, those who worked from home were around 38% less likely to receive a bonus compared to those who never worked from home between 2013 and 2020.

Despite this, the average gross weekly pay of workers who had recently worked from home was about 20% higher in 2020 than those who had never worked from home in their main job, something the ONS explained continues a long-running trend.

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The sickness rate was also 0.9% on average in 2020, compared with 2.2% for those who never worked from home. The working day of homeworkers is longer but also more flexible than those who work away from home, with later and more varied starts and more frequent breaks that are longer too.

The union Prospect told IT Pro that the research matches with the experiences of its own members, and highlighted that remote working has been instrumental in providing flexibility and keeping people safe during the pandemic.

"But for many it has also meant an always-on culture with longer unpaid hours and fewer opportunities to get on at work," said Mike Clancy, the general secretary.

“This is a revolutionary moment for the future of workplaces, but there are too many in business and government rushing into decisions without thinking about long-term consequences and without listening to what workers actually want. 

The results of the ONS study come after Prospect called for a legal requirement to be put in place to bring about a “right to disconnect” policy that stipulates when companies can contact their employees when working from home. Prospect said that including this right in the Employment Bill would be a big step in redefining blurred boundaries and show the government is serious about taking on the “dark side” of remote working.

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