The Changing Place of Work

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1 The Changing Place of Work Alan Felstead Nick Jewson Sally Walters WORKING PAPER No. 28 ESRC FUTURE OF WORK PROGRAMME ISSN September 2003 Alan Felstead, Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester 7-9 Salisbury Road, Leicester, LE1 7QR tel: +44 (0) : fax: +44 (0) : Alan 1

2 ABSTRACT Debate about the changing place of work has been characterised by two positions. On the one hand, there are those who emphasise that work is increasingly becoming an activity not a place because it is being detached from the physical confines of the office or factory. In the media, this view is often found in end of the office style headlines. On the other hand, there are commentators who downplay the extent of change, choosing instead to emphasise the large numbers of workers who continue to work within the physical confines of offices and plants, often at a particular desk or work station on a daily basis. The contribution this paper makes to the debate is the provision of robust statistical evidence on which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments. The paper assembles and presents the results emerging from time-series data spanning 21 years on where work is carried out and recent employer surveys on the changing spatial organisation of the office. The evidence suggests that office work is increasingly becoming detached from individual and personalised cubes of space, marked by walled cells or allocated desk space, and is increasingly being carried out in a variety of different places such as at home and on the move. However, for the vast majority of people such as those in factories or shops work still remains a designated physical place and not an activity. The paper concludes that the changing location of work has been dramatic for some types of employment, occupations and jobs, but for others there has been little change. 2

3 1. Introduction THE CHANGING PLACE OF WORK Like so many concepts in social science, work is imbued with several meanings. Commonly, it is used to refer to either activities involving mental or physical effort for a particular purpose or the place where such activities are carried out. Places of work have, in turn, been classified according to the nature of the activities they physically contain. An office, for example, is a building where nonmanual work is carried out, while a factory is one in which goods are manufactured and/or assembled. For many years, the containment of work in these places has been taken as a given since work activities have, to a large extent, not been portable. The tools necessary to do the job have tied workers down to their desks and their machines (and still do for many). In Dickensian times, for example, office workers could not stray more than an arm s length from their inkwells. The introduction of fountain pens allowed them more freedom to roam and the portable typewriter enhanced their mobility even further although early models were heavy and clumsy to move from place to place. However, the possibility of untethering some work activities almost entirely from conventional places of work has only really come about in recent times with the advent and widespread use of the mobile telephone and the laptop computer (Brown et al., 2002). Much anecdotal evidence suggests that these devices have ushered in a change in the places where some work is now carried out, particularly for office workers. Newspaper headlines emphasise the point, as well as indicating the types of places where it is possible to keep workers fully in touch and connected while outside the physical borders of the office. To minimise downtime for plane travellers, international carriers are refitting their fleets so that at all times Globetrotting executives have the office at their fingertips (The Times, 23 October 2001). Minimising downtime, however, is not restricted to international travellers, but covers those travelling more locally whether by road or rail. As a result, for mobile phone companies Spare time is the essence in mobile war (The Times, 11 July 2002), with the selling pitch that mobiles offer a High-tech way to fill lost time on trips (The Times, 25 April 2002). Hotel chains are hoping to cash in as well by providing facilities to cater for those wishing to combine holiday and work ( Ah sun, sea and 3

4 laptops, Financial Times, 9 July 2002). The home, too, is typically seen as another place where more work can be done with the typically comforting message that There s no workplace like home (The Observer, 24 October 1999). There is also a recognition that changes are also underway within offices themselves such that New technology promises freedom from the office workstation (The Guardian, 14 September 2002). These changes include the ability to work in a range of places within the same building rather than being fixed to working at the same desk each and every day. However, despite this anecdotal evidence, hard robust statistical evidence on the extent to which the location of work is changing for the people of the United Kingdom is scarce. Previous studies have tended to examine the compositional makeup of homeworkers (Felstead, 1996; Hakim, 1998; Felstead et al., 2001) or teleworkers (Huws et al., 1999; Mitel, 1999; Hotopp, 2002) by comparing their demographics and employment profiles to those working in the conventional workplace. These studies have been based on a variety of sources, most notably the Census of Population and the Labour Force Survey, but have not systematically examined trends over time. In addition, they have focused attention on working at home in its various forms and have failed to report on changes to the space individuals occupy while working on employers premises and the extent to which people work on the move while travelling from one destination to another. The aim of this paper is to chart, in so far as is possible with available data, the changing location of work both outside and inside the office and to identify which types of people and jobs have been most affected by these changes. The paper sets out to achieve this aim by examining the changing location of work from the perspective of both individual workers and employers. The two methods adopted for this purpose are outlined in Section 2. In brief, the individual perspective compares the responses given to identical questions asked of different, but representative, samples of respondents to cross-sectional surveys carried out between 1981 and The employer perspective, on the other hand, is based on two recent surveys a representative sample of workplaces and a poll of large organisations. Although pitched at different levels, both surveys ask employer representatives about recent and future changes in the physical layout of their workplaces, and offices in particular. The results of the analyses are presented accordingly. Section 3 reports on the 4

5 changing proportions and numbers of people carrying out work away from the conventional physical boundaries of the office or factory, while Section 4 reports on the past, current and future use employers are making of techniques intended to help effect this change for office workers in particular. Section 5 concludes the paper with a summary and an argument for more data collection in this area so that the extent, pace and pattern of change can be regularly monitored. 2. Data and Methods Despite the regularity with which we are told that employment relatons are being radically reshaped and remoulded, there is no single data source from which enables us to assess changes in the physical location of work. Instead, we are forced to draw on a variety of sources. Some are more reliable than others, some have a regular batch of questions on work location and some have an episodic life span. The aim of this paper is to bring together such a patchwork of data sources in order to present up-to-date evidence on changes in the location of work and the physical shape of UK workplaces. The paper offers evidence from two separate perspectives: that of individuals reporting on where they carry out their work and employers reporting on the physical boundaries they place around employees. In this section, the data sources and methods used to shed light on each perspective are outlined briefly in turn. In 1981 the annual Labour Force Survey (LFS) carried, for the first time, a question on where respondents worked. Respondents were asked do you work mainly in one of four locations: in your own home; in the same building or grounds as your home; in different places using home as a base; or do you work somewhere quite different from home? (OPCS, 1982: Appendix 2). Despite offering a unique perspective on the location of work in the UK and serving as a sift survey for a follow-up interview with those who identified their main workplace as their home (Hakim, 1987), eleven years were to pass before the question was repeated. It made its reappearance in 1992 and has been asked in every quarterly LFS ever since. Another set of questions was added in Spring These included questions identifying those who worked at least one full day at or from home in the week before interview as well as questions on whether the use of a computer and telephone was necessary for respondents to work in this way. To be precise, respondents were 5

6 asked: Although you do not work mainly at home, have you spent at least one full day in the seven days ending Sunday the (date) working in your own home; in the same grounds and buildings as your home; in different places using home as a base; or not worked at home during reference week? Initially, this question was asked every six months, but since 1998 it has been asked once a year in the March-May (Spring) survey. The associated question on the use of technology has undergone a similar change to the frequency of its inclusion and is currently only asked of respondents to the Spring survey (see Felstead et al., 2000: Table A1). It comprises two parts. The first asks respondents who work at or from home either mainly or for one day a week: Do you use both a telephone and a computer to carry out your work at home? Those who answer in the affirmative are asked: Would it be possible to work at home (or use home as a base) without using both a telephone and a computer? These two questions allow an assessment to be made of the importance of technology for the use of the home as a place of work. Each LFS provides a snapshot picture of the state of the labour market in the UK at each point in time. Stacking the results from each LFS alongside others in the series provides an insight into changes in the labour market over time. Given the frequency with which questions on the location of work are asked, the analysis for this paper is based on twelve LFSs the 1981 LFS and the Spring quarters carried out in each of the years between However, in order to ensure comparability between years, some of the analysis reported here is restricted to shorter time periods. For example, not all of the relevant location of work questions are asked in all of the twelve surveys (as outlined above) and some interview responses are coded according to conventions of the time (eg, the occupational coding system changed in 2000; see Elias et al., 1999 and 2000). Despite these complications, the data presented have two major virtues. First, they are based on robust statistical foundations. Each LFS contains data on a random sample of individuals throughout the UK. To achieve this, almost 60,000 households are contacted and information is collected on a total of 150,000 people, of whom around 65,000 are aged 16 and above and are in work at the time of interview. Second, they provide a time-series bank of evidence from which to monitor: (a) aggregate changes in the numbers of people using their homes, to a varying degree, as 6

7 a place of work; and (b) compositional changes in the types of people and jobs involved. However, the LFS has drawbacks. Most notably given the focus of this paper, it fails to collect information about the changing ways in which workers may use (and/or be required to use) the conventional workplace. For example, rather than mainly working in a particular building, employees might use their employers premises as drop-in centres from which to carry out tasks in a variety of locations. Similarly, rather than having a particular place of work within a building, employees might have no place they can call their own and instead may be required to occupy different places in the building throughout the day (e.g., use hot desks or touchdown desks). The LFS offers no means of assessing how widespread the movement of people within the workplace has become and how this relates to work conducted outside both the workplace and the home. However, recent surveys of employers can help to shed some light on these issues. The employer perspective presented in this paper draws on two recent surveys: one carried out among a representative sample of workplaces and based on interviews with senior human resource managers; and one based on interviews with senior facilities/property managers representing some of the largest organisations in Britain. The first of these referred to as the Change in Employer Practices Survey (CEPS) was conducted between July-September 2002 and comprised telephone interviews with 2,000 senior human resource/industrial relations managers in a nationally representative stratified random sample of workplaces in Britain. The CEPS covered all sectors of the economy and was constructed to collect evidence from both large and small establishments provided they employed at least five workers. Around twothirds of managers approached took part in the survey with interviews lasting around 30 minutes (Taylor, 2002). The survey was designed to make an assessment of recent changes in employer practices and provide an indication of expected changes in the near future. Respondents were accordingly asked to report on change over the last three years and plans for change over the next 12 months. The topics covered included numbers and types of employees, promotion and recruitment, staff working conditions, employee involvement, the use of information technology, the legal and regulatory environment, and last but not least, the management of space at work. With respect to the latter, respondents were asked: Over the last three years have any of the following things happened at your establishment?. Increased use of open plan 7

8 offices, The use of hot-desking and The reorganisation of equipment and machines to release space were among the options. They were also asked: Are you planning to introduce/extend use of [each practice] during the next 12 months? Early analysis of the responses has prompted the suggestion by one commentator, who is in general sceptical of claims that employment relations are dramatically changing, that we are going through a radical transformation in the physical shape of offices and plants (Taylor, 2002: 12). The analysis presented here examines this suggestion. The Location of Work Survey (LWS) offers a slightly different, but more focused, assessment of changes in the management and organisation of space within today s workplaces. It polled the views of senior facilities/property managers in large organisations in Britain rather than human resource managers in establishments. As a result, the information gathered provides a high level organisational view across many establishments of past, current and future changes to the physical layout of workplaces and offices in particular. Interviews were carried out by telephone in the first six months of 2002 and lasted on average 30 minutes. The sample of large organisations comprised the largest private sector companies domiciled in the UK and measured by capital employed (Extel Financial, 1998) together with local authority employers in England (county councils, London borough councils and metropolitan district councils). By the time of the survey, the list totalled 185 organisations with some attrition due to take-overs and mergers between private sector organisations originally listed. By the end of the six-month survey period, 128 out of a possible 185 organisations had been successfully interviewed. This equates to a response rate of 69.2% with the remainder either refusing to participate or failing to turn up for telephone appointments. Respondents were asked about the use within their organisations of hot desks, touchdown desks, office redesign, working at home and working in a variety of places. A definition of each practice was provided to respondents who were then asked about its current usage and its take-up among different groups of workers. Organisational respondents were also asked about the growth of the practice over the last five years and were asked to identify the main underlying factors behind any growth. Similarly, respondents were asked about plans to extend each practice throughout the organisation and to list the reasons for these plans. 8

9 3. Individual Perspective of Changes in the Location of Work Using the LFS to track labour market change has a number of advantages. It is regularly carried out, has a high response rate, comprises a large number of interviews, uses officially recognised techniques and measures, and can be grossed up to give a picture of the UK both in terms of the proportions and number of people involved. The results presented here, therefore, report on the proportions, percentage point changes and absolute changes in the number of people affected by shifts in the location of work over time. Table 1 presents the overall pattern of change over the period. This shows that the numbers working mainly at home have doubled over the period, but since then the numbers involved have remained flat at around 650,000. They account for one in forty workers (around 2.5%) and have done so for the last ten years (see Table 1, column 1). However, the numbers mainly using their home in order to work in a variety of places has risen more dramatically their numbers have more than tripled over the 21 year period or, to be more precise, they have risen by 232 percentage points. Moreover, similar rates of change have been posted in the 1980s and 1990s. Remarkably, the proportion of workers using their home as a base of work has increased almost every year over the last two decades. By 2002, 7.6% of workers (or one in every thirteen) carried out their work in a variety of places using their home as a base. This accounted for around 2.2 million workers in the UK in 2002 (see Table 1, column 2). In 1981, 4.3% of employed people in the UK carried out their activities mainly at or from their own home. Twenty-one years later, this proportion had risen to 10.0%, representing an additional 1.8 million workers who had to become accustomed to working without a conventional workplace outside of the home. Put Table 1 about here More recently, the LFS has added additional questions which make it possible to track the extent to which work is being carried at home for at least one full day a week. This question is asked in order to identify those people who work at home occasionally rather than permanently. For example, a respondent who spends four 9

10 days a week working in an office, but spends one day a week working at home would be captured by this question. However, working at home for periods of less than a full day would not be captured nor would several hours over the space of a number of days even if over the course of a week they amounted to a full day s work. As a result, the question s coverage is by definition conservative. Nevertheless, the results show that over a million workers spend one full day of their working week carrying out paid work at home. This represents 4.0% of the working population in the UK. Even over the relatively short period during which this question has been asked of LFS respondents, the results suggest an upward movement in the numbers using their homes as an occasional place of work 1.2 million workers were estimated to be doing so in 2002, an almost 17 percentage point change on the 1997 figure and accounting for 4.4% of UK workers (see Table 1, column 3). Taken together, the data so far reported suggests that around one in every eight (13.4%) workers in the UK use their home to some extent as their place of work each week. This equates to around 3.8 million people in Moreover, the numbers working outside conventional workplaces whether permanently or occasionally working at or from home has risen by just over 800,000 people in the course of five years which translates into a 26.9 percentage change (see Table 1, column 4). The analysis can be taken a step further by examining the trends in those who report that it would be impossible to work off-site without the use of a telephone and a computer. When these results are examined, it is interesting to note the growing reliance and importance of these kinds of devices to this way of working. Whereas in 1997 a third (33.0%) of those working at or from home for least one day a week reported the centrality of information and communication technology (ICT) in allowing them to do so, by 2002 this proportion had reached almost half (47.0%). The percentage point change in the numbers of workers involved also reflected this stark change. Between 1997 and 2002, the numbers of workers whose home location of work was dependent on ICT leapt by 80.2 percentage points (see Table 1, column 5). This provides some empirical evidence for the ability of technology, via the electronic envelope, to stretch the reach of the conventional workplace well beyond its physical boundaries. 10

11 From this evidence, it is clear that changes are taking place in the location of work and that ICT is increasingly being used to bridge the physical gap between those working at home and the conventional workplace. However, the data we have relates to working at or from home and does not allow us to assess the extent to which the conventional workplace is itself being used differently possibly as a base from which to visit clients or as a drop-in centre or how these buildings themselves may been reconfigured. This kind of data is not collected by the LFS. Instead, we have to rely on other sources of information such as employers surveys reported in Section 4 in order to gain insights into these issues. So far the analysis suggests that the LFS identifies five ways in which the home may be use as a place of work: (1) working mainly at home; (2) working mainly in different places but using home as a base; (3) working at or from home for at least one day in the course of a week (i.e. occasionally); (4) working mainly at or from home or doing so occasionally; and (5) using a telephone and a computer in order to work mainly at or from home or doing so occasionally. Aggregate trends were examined in Table 1 using these five measures. Subsequent tables reported in this paper seek to examine the type of jobs and people who have been most affected by these changes. While recognising that a gradual shift has taken place in the location of work for many workers in Britain, a common objection is that this has had its greatest impact on those with a long tradition of working outside the conventional physical boundaries of an office or factory. According to the TUC (2001: 4), for example: There is nothing very new about the self-employed working either full time at home or more commonly using home as a base. The implication is that if the trends identified in Table 1 can be largely attributed to more of the self-employed working in this way, then there is little evidence from the LFS questions at least that offices and factories are losing some of their centrality as places of work for employees. Tables 2 and 3 examine this proposition. Table 2 shows how the doubling of the numbers reporting that they worked mainly at home over the period can be accounted for. Two-thirds of the rise can be put down to the self-employed, while a third was the result of more 11

12 employees working in this way (see Table 2, panel (a)). However, the self-employed and employees were more equal contributors to the growth over the period in those working in a variety of different places but using their home as a base, although the self-employed accounted for slightly more of the expansion. Nevertheless, employees experienced the sharpest percentage increase in the numbers who reported that their job required them to work from home not a conventional workplace (see Table 2, panel (b)). Put Table 2 about here Trends in the occasional use of the home as a place of work, its use on a permanent or occasional basis as a workplace, and the importance of the telephone and the computer in detaching work from conventional offices and factories can also be broken down according to employment status. The results are shown in Table 3, albeit for a shorter time period than reported in Tables 1 and 2 due to data constraints. Once again, the use of the home as a permanent and/or occasional place of work is more common among the self-employed than among the ranks of employees. In 2002, almost three out of five people working as self-employed (58.2%) used their home in some way as a place of work compared to one in thirteen employees (7.6%) (see Table 3, panel (b)). Nevertheless, employees contributed more than the selfemployed to the growth in the number working outside the conventional physical containers of the office block or factory complex. Employees who used technology to do so, for example, increased in number by over half a million during the period compared to an additional quarter of a million self-employed (see Table 3, panel (c)). The percentage change figures reflect the greater contributions that employees made to the overall rise in each case they exceeded the rates of change for the self-employed, sometimes substantially. This implies that changes in the location of work have been more rapid for employees than for the self-employed who have, in any case, been accustomed to this way of working for quite some time. Nevertheless, there still remains ample room for further growth with at most one in thirteen employees regularly working at or from home. Put Table 3 about here 12

13 Interest has also been shown in the types of jobs likely to be involved. It is suggested that those who would otherwise be working in offices are more heavily affected in other words, those in managerial, professional and associate professional occupations, commonly known as non-manual jobs (TUC, 2001). These kinds of jobs accounted for between 40-80% of jobs based at or from home in some way, with the variation dependent on the measure used. The nine broad occupational categories, however, conceal some particularly high concentrations of work activities being carried out away from office premises. In 2002, for example, over half of all childminders (59.6%), nearly half of all writers and authors (46.3%) and over one fifth of journalists (21.4%) were estimated to work at home on a permanent basis. However, professionals were the highest occasional users of the home as their place of work. This use was spread relatively evenly throughout the jobs that make up the professional category. In 2000, it was estimated that around one in every eight (12.9%) professional worked at home for at least one day a week. Education and teaching professionals posted slightly higher usage rates as did management consultants (18.5%), IT strategists and planners (18.3%), directors and chief executives (18.2%), and sales and marketing managers (17.4%). As regards patterns of growth, what is clear is that non-manual jobs as a whole have been among some of the heaviest contributors to the increase in the number of jobs carried out at or from home. For example, at a time ( ) when the absolute numbers of those working at home on a permanent basis have, if anything, been declining, the number of professional and associate professionals working in this way has actually risen (see Table 4, panel (a)). Almost half of the increase in the number of people using their home as a base from which to work came from the top three occupational categories of managers, professionals and associate professionals (see Table 4, panel (b)). Put Table 4 about here The other three measures of work location suggest that these occupational groups were even heavier contributors to the rise in the absolute number of people who use non-work premises as places of work. For example, over half a million more people in 2000 than in 1997 reported that they worked at least one day a week at or 13

14 from home. Of these, around three-fifths (57.7%) were recorded as occupying managerial, professional or associate professional positions (see Table 5, panel (b)). Factoring in the use of ICT to work in this manner makes the contribution of these three occupational groupings to the overall growth even more pronounced. In this case, around two-thirds (67.1%) of the expansion came from these three groups alone (see Table 5, panel (c)). The occasional use of the home was especially prevalent and its growing usage most rapid among these groups the numbers involved rose rapidly over the period, with both managers and professionals posting double digit percentage point increases in the numbers involved at a time when almost all other occupational groups recorded falls (see Table 5, panel (a)). Put Table 5 about here The evidence shown in Tables 6 and 7 examines whether these changes were gendered did their impact fall disportionately on one sex more than the other? Each of the measures provides a slightly different answer, so that no overall pattern emerges. For example, the number of women using their home as a base from which they go to and fro to carry out work more than quadrupled over the period. The number of men working in a similar fashion also rose very substantially but only tripled during the same period (see Table 6, panel (b)). On other measures, men experienced more rapid rates of change than women and vice versa. For example, the proportion of men who worked at or from home for at least one day a week rose from 13.1% in 1997 to 16.2% in This change was around double the rate of change recorded for women (31.4 versus 18.9 percentage points) over the same period (see Table 7, panel (b)). Put Tables 6 and 7 about here 4. Employer Perspective of Changes in the Location of Work Quantitative survey data on the use of the home as a workplace as well as its use as a place from which to carry out work in other places on a mainly or occasional basis with or without the aid of ICT provides a valuable insight into the 14

15 changing location of work outside the physical boundaries of the office or factory. Comparing the results to LFS questions asked of a cross-section of respondents over a 21-year period falls firmly into this type of enquiry. However, these external changes may reflect internal changes in the spatial and social configuration of the workplace and the office in particular. Examination of this proposition requires direct contact with employing organisations. The two employer surveys reported in this section provide an opportunity to test this proposition from such a perspective. The Changing Employer Practices Survey (CEPS) was carried out among senior personnel responsible for human resource or personnel issues. These respondents were drawn from a stratified sample of establishments. Interviews were carried out irrespective of whether or not the site formed part of a larger organisation. Generally, in establishments with 100 or more employees the respondent was the human resource/personnel director or manager. In establishments with fewer than 100 employees it was typically the owner, proprietor or the site/office manager. On average, each establishment employed 268 workers. However, in order to give a representative picture of establishments in Britain many of which are small the results presented here are weighted to reflect the employee size profile of establishments in the country. The size of workplaces in the weighted sample drops to 32 employees as do all of the percentages reported in this paper. This is reflective of the fact that larger establishments are more likely to report change simply because they employ larger numbers of people and therefore have a greater likelihood that change may affect at least one of them over any given time period. Despite this qualification, the weighted results suggest that many establishments in Britain have recently changed the spatial configuration of their offices and plants, and that sizeable proportions expect to extend these developments in the future. Establishment respondents were asked about two types of change: those applying to the internal spatial organisation of the workplace; and those that give employees the ability to work externally (i.e. outside the physical boundaries of the office or factory). Around one in six establishments reported an increase over three years in the use of open plan offices (17.4%) and hot desking (15.6%) (hot desking was defined in the survey as the situation where staff have no fixed personal workspace and use any available desk as needed ). A third (35.3%) reported carrying 15

16 out a reorganisation of equipment and machines to release space during the previous three years (see Table 8, panel 1). A smaller, but still sizeable, number of managers said they intended to extend or introduce such changes in the next twelve months. For example, as many as a fifth (22.1%) said they planned to extend or increase the reorganisation of equipment in order to release more space inside the establishment. These proportions are sizeable and are indicative of substantial changes to the physical layout of offices and factories. They are especially noticeable when set alongside the more modest proportions of establishments (around one in twenty) that have experienced recent increases in teleworking and working from home, and are anticipating rises in each in the near future (see Table 8, panel 2). The comparison is all the more striking since the LFS data presented earlier focused on what according to the CEPS results are the least dramatic of the changes impacting on where and in what type of environments people work. Put Table 8 about here The LFS has another blind spot partly corrected by the CEPS. In addition to asking establishment managers about employees who spend some of their usual working hours working from home, managers were also asked about employees who work most of their time off-site (i.e. with customers or clients). The results suggest that 3.5% of employees work some of their usual hours at home with one in twelve managers expecting this proportion to rise in the twelve months following interview. This incidence is broadly in line with LFS estimates for 2002 which range from 1.0% to 7.5% according to the measure used (cf Tables 2 and 3). However, the LFS does not ask about employees who spend most of their time off-site with customers and clients. Based on the CEPS data, estimates put the proportion of employees working away from either employers premises or where they live at one in seven (14.3%) with a similar proportion (13.5%) of managers predicting a rise in the incidence of off-site working in the twelve months after interview (see Table 9). Once again, these incidence levels and anticipated increases suggest that changes to the place of work as recorded by the LFS may be just the tip of the iceberg. Put Table 9 about here 16

17 Much of the literature on the reorganisation of the office (e.g., Stone and Luchetti 1985; Laing 1998; Harris 1998; Bedford and Tong 1998) links the detachment of people from dedicated places of work to the arrival of computer technologies that allow voice and data connections to be maintained at a distance, thereby removing the need for physical proximity. The development of the LFS also reflects this presumption. In 1997, a question on the importance of the computer and telephone to those who use their homes rather than the office or factory as a place of work was added to the LFS. The results have been reported every October since 1999 in Labour Market Trends. Earlier in the paper, we used the data this question provides to assess the centrality of ICT to those working at or from home. The CEPS data complements this approach by providing an insight into the links between ICT and changes to the internal layout of establishments. In particular, CEPS respondents were asked to give an estimate of the coverage of computer use among employees, an indication of how this proportion had changed over the last three years and an assessment of the importance of using computers to keep a continuous record of work progress. Using these measures, Table 10 compares establishments that reported reconfiguring their internal workspaces in the past and in the future with those that had not nor planned to do so. The results strongly suggest that internal reorganisation is significantly more likely to occur in establishments that are: better networked; have experienced more rapid spread of computerisation; and attach greater importance to computerised data collection of employees work progress (see Table 10, panel 1). In other words, not only does the electronic envelope stretch the reach of the workplace well beyond its physical boundaries (as shown using the LFS), but also similar technological devices facilitate greater movement and fluidity within conventional places of work. Put Table 10 about here A complementary approach to an establishment-level survey is one carried out at an organisational-level. Such an approach allows views to be gathered across several establishments in a single interview. This applies especially when surveys are focused on organisational representatives of large private and public sector employers, as in the case of the Location of Work Survey (LWS) reported here. Organisations participating in the LWS employed, on average, 20,320 workers spread 17

18 across many establishments. However, this does mean that organisations are more likely to report change occurring in at least one establishment under their ownership, even though this change may only affect a small proportion of the total workforce. LWS respondents were asked at the beginning of the interview to think about the staff that work for your organisation in the UK and to answer the questions posed accordingly. They were asked whether they used a number of new ways of reconfiguring office space, the extent to which these internal changes to the layout of their offices had occurred over the last five years and whether they had plans to rollout these changes throughout the organisation s offices. The results suggest that many large organisations have already experimented with some reshaping of their office estates. The penetration of new space management systems was high and almost half of large employers expected to institute these changes in other offices under their control in the near future. For example, hot desks (that is, desks which workers have to book in advance to use ) were used by three out of ten (31.3%) large organisations at the time of interview, rising to almost two out of five (39.6%) large private sector employers (see Table 11, panel 1a). However, the extent of their use was quite modest in almost all cases less than 5% of office staff were actually reported to be hot desking. Nevertheless, a sizeable proportion (30.0%) of hot desking employers had a formal policy or guidelines on the use of bookable desk space which, in many cases, they were willing to share with the research team. Furthermore, the backward and forward looking questions suggest that hot desking has recently become of interest to large employers. A quarter (27.8%) reporting increased use over the last five years. Nearly half (44.6%) plan to make greater use of hot desking in the near future. A similar, if slightly more pronounced, picture emerges with regard to the use of touchdown desks (that is, desks that are set aside for drop in use by anyone in the organisation ). According to the LWS this arrangement is used to some extent, albeit only in a limited way, in two out of five (43.3%) large organisations. Many expected to roll-out its use even further in the next few years (see Table 11, panel 1b). Overarching redesign of office space including the introduction of the campus style office and the removal of private, cellular offices is also being considered by almost two-thirds (64.6%) of the organisations surveyed. Almost half of these organisations (47.2%) had plans in place at the time of the interview. Survey respondents explained in some detail what these redesigns entailed. 18

19 They ranged from equipping particular areas such as restaurants, cafés and breakfast bars with internet access and laptop plug-in points, through to wholesale reviews of space usage and identification of ways in which space per office worker could be reduced (see Table 11, panel 1c). Put Table 11 about here The survey uncovered even more widespread use of ways of relocating work outside of the office altogether. Around nine out of ten organisations reported that at least some of their employees worked at home (89.0%) and some used the office as a base from which to work in a variety of places (93.8%). However, these figures should be treated with caution since the proportions of staff involved typically accounted for just 5% of the office workforce. Nevertheless, a half (49.6%%) and a fifth (21.0%) of organisations had a formal policy or set guidelines governing each of these ways of working (figures not shown in table). Furthermore, nearly threequarters (72.2%) of them expected working at home to grow in importance in future years and around half (48.4%) were similarly upbeat about growing numbers of employees working off-site in a range of different places in the next few years (see Table 11, panel 2a and 2b). The occupational group most affected by these changes is not the salesperson who is, almost by definition, multi-locational, but senior managers and professionals (cf. TUC, 2001). Around a quarter of organisations which offer hot desk and touchdown desk facilities use them for senior managers and professionals compared to a smaller proportion (10.5% and 17.7% respectively) who use these arrangements for sales staff. Working at home follows a similar pattern with managers and professionals being the most significant users. However, there is greater parity as regards working in a variety of places around one-quarter of organisations allow senior managers, professionals and sales staff to work in this way (see Table 12). Put Table 12 about here Respondents who reported that the organisation had changed the location of work in the last five years or planned to do so in the future, were asked to indicate the 19

20 main drivers behind these decisions (see Table 13 and 14). The results reveal two prominent factors the need to economise on property costs and the desire to promote greater work flexibility. In almost all cases, these were mentioned by more respondents than any other factor. Work flexibility was cited by over half of respondents whose organisations had increased (or planned to increase) use of touchdown desks, working at home or mobile working. The need to save on property costs, on the other hand, was cited by proportionately more respondents who reported recent increases or planned use of hot desks and office redesign. Put Tables 13 and 14 about here 5. Conclusion Discussion of the changing place of work tends to excite hyperbole, exaggerated claims and wild predictions. This type of reporting often emphasised by attention-grabbing newspaper headlines over-emphasises the rapidity of change (e.g., Scase, 1999). On the other hand, there are those who are at great pains to argue that no change at all has taken place in the location of work and that those people who do work in non-conventional settings have always done so (e.g., TUC, 2001). However, this debate has often been waged in the absence of a thorough examination of how the location of work has changed over time and in particular how office environments have changed. The contribution this paper makes to the debate is the provision of robust statistical evidence on which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these assertions. The paper assembles and presents findings concerning the location of work, using time-series data spanning 21 years. It also examines recent employer surveys on the changing spatial organisation of the office. On this evidence, the location of work has certainly changed and is continuing to do so. Take the number of people who do most of their work at or from home, for example. In 1981, around one in twenty-five people used their homes in this way; by 2002 this had risen to one in ten. When the use of the home one day a week is included, the proportion of people regularly using their home as a workplace rises to more than one in eight, or around 3.8 million workers. Once the importance of 20

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