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Numbers working from home on the rise as cost-of-living crisis hits commuters

Nick Cheek
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Nick Cheek

Over a third of employers have seen an increase in those opting to work at home as pressure from rising prices mounts.

A survey conducted from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) found that 36% of employers said that more staff were now working from home compared to last year.

This was mainly due to the rise in the cost of living, alongside flexible work patterns to better manage work-life balances.

Advice for Employers

Employers are looking to bring staff back into the workplace – both Amazon and Zoom have recently mandated partial returns to the office for  employees. However, with four million people changing jobs due to work inflexibility, according to a survey by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, enforced returns coudl backfire on companies.

More adaptable working arrangements can attract and retain staff, ACAS argued. This enables firms to be more competitive.

ACAS noted that a company home, hybrid or flexible working policy should explain how someone can ask about work scheduling, and as a result, how jobs will be assessed and how decisions which affect jobs are to be made.

There should also be a fair and transparent decision-making process on whether to agree or not to a home-working request.

Other forms of flexible working could also be discussed as potential alternatives, in the event of home working not being practical for certain positions.

Changes made to employment act

Alterations to the Employment Relations Act 2023 with regards to flexible working will come into force next year, and in response ACAS has produced a new code reflecting on the clauses in the act.

This includes deciding on who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a flexible working request. And ACAS said that greater transparency was needed over reasons why a flexible working pattern request was rejected.

It’s also made clear that employers should offer a right of appeal if any flexible work request has been turned down.

Cost of living impact

ACAS chief executive, Susan Clews, said: “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.”

“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 review arrangements.

“ACAS has good practice in this area that can help. Our new draft Code encourages employers to take a positive approach to flexible working and addresses all the new changes in the Employment Relations Act. We are keen to get views to ensure that it is clear and relevant for the modern workplace.”