Home-Based Working in the Western Region

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has published its latest WDC Insights Home-Based Working in the Western Region, which is the third in a series examining the current nature of work, focussing on work which is often home based.
Working at or from home can take different forms. This WDC Insights examines the data on those people who work ‘mainly at or from home’ derived from the Census question ‘how do you usually travel to work?’ with one of the answers being ‘work mainly at or from home’.

  • Excluding those working in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing industries, in 2011 (the most recent data available), the share of the state’s working population reported as working mainly at or from home was just 2.8% (47,127). 
  • In the Western Region the share was higher with 3.2% (8,994) of workers in the Western Region, stating they worked mainly at or from home. There is a higher rate of self-employment in the Western Region and this is likely to be a contributory factor. 
  • This higher rate of self-employment is partly related to an absence of other opportunities and the need to generate income. Those working mainly at or from home also include skilled employees choosing to live in more regional locations. 
  • Supporting those ‘who work mainly at or from home’ is also supporting the retention of higher skilled, often entrepreneurial workers in regional economies as well as likely reducing the incidence of commuting and migration.

A common theme among all three publications is the poor evidence base. Capturing and measuring those engaged in the ‘gig’ economy,  e-Working and home-based working is difficult due to the paucity of data – various surveys and limited Census data.
Work takes many forms and the concept of work is changing.  We need to ensure that we can capture and measure the incidence of all types of work so as to ensure that our policy focus is not only limited to the traditional workplace-based employer-employee relationship.
The first publication in the series, the WDC Policy Briefing No.7 e-Working in the Western Region: A Review of the Evidence (download here – PDF 748KB), examined the extent of e-working in the Western Region, examining those in traditional employer-employee relationships, but who work from home, whether full-time or for a period during the working week. This form of working is also illustrated with several case studies of the practice.

The second publication in the series, WDC Insights ‘New Work’ – the Gig economy in the Western Region,  (download here – PDF 254KB), examined the nature of the gig economy and the extent to which it exists in the Western Region. Though similar in its reliance on electronic communication, unlike e-working, the gig economy is different to typical work as it is often characterised by payment per task, or sales.
WDC Insights Home-Based Working July 2017