The UK has a record 4.2 million people working from home, the majority of whom are in highly skilled roles, official data has shown.

The Office for National Statistic’s Characteristics of Home Workers report, which was released on Wednesday, found that the growing numbers of home workers tend to be self-employed, older and earn more than the rest of the population.

The top three roles carried out by homeworkers were farming (134,000), construction (127,000) and sales, accounts and business development managers (123,000).

Around six in every ten workers in agriculture use their home for working. Workers within public administration, education and health, as well as those working within hospitality, were the least likely to work from home.

The number of home workers has almost doubled in the past decade and a half, rising from 2.9 million in 1998 to 4.2 million in 2014 and representing 13.9% of the total workforce in the UK.

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The local authorities with the highest percentage of homeworkers in England and Wales were West Somerset (25.7%), Powys (22.1%), Ceredigion (21.5%) and Cumbria (21.5%). This shows that the highest concentration of homeworkers tend to be in rural areas – advancements in technology have made home working an attractive alternative to commuting.

The increase in the number of people choosing this option is driven by digital technology, the rise in self-employment and an ageing population seeking to avoid the daily commute. However, John Philpott, director of the Jobs Economist consultancy, told the Financial Times that the share of home working had “yet to grow by as much as ‘future of work’ gurus regularly predict”.

He said:

“All these factors are likely to further increase home working in the coming decades but one should be wary of forecasts suggesting that the vast majority of people will in the future be mainly working at home,” he said. “Work in the office, at the factory or on the service front line will remain the norm for the vast majority of people.”

Photo by Jeremy Levine