A Randstad survey has cast doubt on predictions that 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020.

The number of people working from home has increased over the last decade due to technology and changing work attitudes and in 2015, 4.2 million people worked from home.

Heavy investment in the UK’s digital sector, the rise of the gig economy, and employers offering ‘soft benefits’ like remote working will have swollen that number leading to predictions that 50% of workers will work from home by the end of the decade.

However, Randstad’s Q1 Workmonitor report suggests it could take even longer after data showed two thirds (65%) of UK employees were still working in a traditional office setting during working hours. 

The Netherlands reported the lowest number of traditional workers (47%) while at the other end 85% of respondents in India worked in offices. The global average was 68%, the study found.

Work benefits. 

The same report showed that while two thirds of the UK worked in an office environment, 76% agreed agile working allowed them to maintain a good work-life balance. Half of respondents thought the traditional attitude of going into the office were switching to remote working.

In 1998, during the dotcom boom but long before converged technology made working from home cheap and accessible, a study in the Journal of General Management found 75% ‘declared themselves to be more or much more effective when working at home than when working in the office’.

Workmonitor suggests that figure hasn’t budged in the UK for two decades with three quarters of workers still believing they would work better and gain greater job satisfaction if they were allowed to work from home. 

China and Malaysia were most enthusiastic about working from home with 92% of respondents there saying their productivity would increase in more agile conditions. 

Human interaction.

One of the reasons 65% of UK employees work in offices surrounded by colleagues could be their propensity to meet people face-to-face or have in-person meetings. 

Almost three quarters (72%) of respondents said they regularly have this type of meeting in the office in order to keep everyone informed and aligned. Just one third of respondents in the UK said they regularly have video conference calls with team members. 

Itchy feet.

For the first time in six months, employees in the UK have said they are more confident about their job prospects and could quit their job before the end of June. Workmonitor’s mobility tracker indicated the UK workforce is the most confident it has been about career opportunities since mid-2017. 

The rise matches that of workers in France and Germany suggesting it might not be linked to recent progressions in Brexit negotiations. On the other hand, mobility globally has flatlined for the past three months but confidence today remains nine points higher than it did in 2010 following the financial crash.