Million Britons now working from home

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MORE THAN one million people in the United Kingdom are now working from home using new technology, a new study revealed today.

The report, by the Institute of Employment Studies, also forecast that about 200,000 people a year will start teleworking as more organisations decide to release staff from the drudgery of commuting. Cutting numbers of people in the office also means that companies can reduce costs through the amount of space they need to lease.

BT already has 3,000 teleworkers and says its audio-conferencing service has increased by 400 per cent over the past 12 months. Other organisations that are considering basing part of their workforce at home, and using the office as a drop-in centre, include local authorities such as Oxford and Surrey County Councils, banks including Barclays, Abbey National and Lloyds TSB and charities such as Action Aid.

According to the institute, many companies are beginning to accept the idea of teleworking, and there could be advantages for other types of employees. Disabled people, those who live in remote areas or who need to stay at home because they have parents or children to look after could all be employed as teleworkers.

However, despite the obvious advantages of not having to go into the office every day, many people are put off by the thought of loneliness. But a pounds 7m scheme in Wales has been designed to avoid this. The Acorn Televillage, at Crickhowell, in the Brecon Beacons, is the first purpose-built village made up of 39 cottages and work studios where teleworkers can live and work together to avoid the feeling of isolation. All but 12 of the buildings have been sold.