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No brave new world for home teleworking


Frequent predictions of a work revolution as office jobs go to be replaced by people working from home using high tech links have failed to materialise, according to a TUC report published on Friday. Instead home computers are more likely to be used by stressed executives taking work home this weekend or by the kind of worker – usually self-employed – who has always worked from home, according to the official figures analysed in today’s report.

Working from home can be a valuable way of helping work-life balance, the report argues, but instead new technology is too often being used to add to work pressure. “Employees in the UK already work the longest working hours in Europe. Now they are expected to take work home with them as well, rather than enjoy this weekend in the sun,” says TUC Deputy General Secretary Brendan Barber.

Elsewhere in Europe, EU figures show the pressure to take work home is much less. One in five (21%) sometimes take work home in the UK, compared to one in fourteen (7%) on average in the European Union.

Brendan Barber said: “It seems the countries known for their high trust relationships at work and good work-life balance are where employers are happy to let staff work from home.

We seem to have some of the least trusting bosses in Europe. Of course teleworking does not suit everybody, but I am sure many would like more choice.”

While there has been some increase in teleworking in recent years, it has failed to take off in the way that many trend spotters predicted. Brendan Barber, said: “It’s a big mistake to say that work will change, simply because it can and it looks like an attractive option for at least some employees. Employers have to be prepared to change too, and when UK employers talk about flexibility too often they simply mean their rights to hire and fire.”

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