Men shun the office for work at home

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The Independent Online

For years, the office has been their playground. Now, in an extraordinary reversal of roles, most British men want to work from home.

For years, the office has been their playground. Now, in an extraordinary reversal of roles, most British men want to work from home.

Government-commissioned research to be published tomorrow will show that 24 per cent of men already travel no further than their study, and that a further 38 per cent want to join them there.

But don't imagine that the first-ever work-life balance survey has uncovered a stampede of "new men" hankering to spend more time with their families. They want to work from home to meet the demands of their jobs, and claim they are "more effective" away from distracting workplaces.

Fewer women than men expressed a preference for life outside the office. Even so, 16 per cent already work at home and a further 33 per cent would like to do so.

They, too, seemed to have convenience rather than childcare in mind. A tiny 5 per cent of the 7,500 workers surveyed, male and female, said they wanted a home-based working life to enable them to look after children.

The Department for Education and Employment commissioned the research as part of its attempt to promote a better work-life balance, allowing employees, particularly women, to "get a life" and spend more time with their families.

"This underlines the fact that more men than women work from home and want to work from home," said a DfEE source. "We didn't really know what we were going to find, but, in general terms, it is rather going against what people think is the pattern."

As well as showing a huge demand for flexible working hours and for the right to work from home, the report will also indicate a surprising willingness on the part of employers to agree, with as many as a fifth of workers believing their bosses would be amenable.

A DfEE spokesman said: "Working from home has advantages for companies and staff. There can be increases in efficiency and improvements in quality of life. Advances in new technology mean that it is now possible for more people to work from home than ever before."

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