The endless working week

Article date: 8 October 2003

British workers dreaming of packing in their nine to five officejob in favour of a supposed easy life working from home,underestimate what it takes to be a successful homeworker.

New research from Norwich Union explodes the myth that workingfrom home makes for a cushy life. In fact, two in five homeworkerssay they work more than eight hours a day and over three- quartersfind themselves working at weekends.

The "Homeworking Reality" study reveals that the working week islonger than 45 hours for nearly half of all homeworkers. Thiscompares to the UK average working week of just over 39 hours*.

Nine out of 10 people working from home say they made the changefor a more flexible lifestyle or to spend time with their family.But in reality the majority admit they work longer hours at homethan their office counterparts.

Despite these long hours, the nation's army of homeworkers sayfriends and family still think working from home means longlie-ins, lounging on the sofa and endless daytime TV. Almosttwo-thirds (62%) of homeworkers admit their friends and familyassume working from home is an easy option.

And instead of providing support, it seems homeworkers' friendsand family members are actually the biggest hindrance to workingfrom home – homeworkers say their top two distractions arepersonal visitors to their home during "office hours" and friendscalling for a gossip.

And while the traditional office environment has relaxed overthe past decade, Norwich Union's research reveals things are evenmore casual at home. One in 10 homeworkers admit they spent the dayconducting business in their pyjamas and over a third say they haveconducted an important business call whilst cuddling a partner,child or pet.

Isabel Baumber, product development manager at Norwich Union,said: "General perceptions of working from home are a long way offreality. With more people turning to homeworking to address theirwork-life balance it is essential that they understand it's not aneasy option.

"However it's not all doom and gloom for wannabe homeworkers.Despite the long hours and multiple distractions it seems that oncepeople have tried homeworking there is no looking back. Many wouldnever return to working in an office environment, believing thebenefits of working from home far outweigh the disadvantages.

"Our research also shows that many homeworkers may not haveadequate insurance for their business. It's essential that thoseworking from home check whether they are covered, particularly ifthey employ others or have clients visiting their homes."

To help people thinking of working from home, Norwich Union hasproduced top tips for successful homeworking:

  1. Establish a daily routine. Create a realistic routineto help you stay focused and motivated and allow time for non-work breaks too.
  2. Create a dedicated work area. Whether it's a separateroom, desk or work surface, a dedicated workspace will help makethe switch to "home mode".
  3. Build a support network. Maintain and build businesscontacts that can offer you advice and keep you abreast of markettrends and industry news. They may also be able to pass onall-important new business leads.
  4. Learn how to deal with interruptions. Establish groundrules for other household members and make it clear that when youare at your desk you are not to be disturbed.
  5. Get out of the house. To ward off cabin fever ensureyou schedule appointments, both business and social, away fromyour home.


Media contacts:
Charlotte Speedy or Matt Buchanan at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 78612424
Liz Kennett or Lucy Haughey at Norwich Union on 01603 688 263 or07801 901 666

Notes to editors:

*Office of National statistics figure.

  • Norwich Union Insurance commissioned Continental Research tointerview 450 self-employed homeworkers throughout the UK inSeptember 2003.
  • The Homeworking Reality Research also looked at the levels ofinsurance held by homeworkers. Nearly two thirds [64%] do not haveseparate business contents insurance. A further third ofhomeworkers did not have public liability, separate businesscontents or employers liability insurance.

About the Self-employed and Homework™Products
A growing number of individuals are self–employed and oftenwork from home. Many insurance packages lack the flexibility tocater for these kinds of businesses. Both new products from NorwichUnion provide comprehensive core covers as well as the flexibilityto choose from a wide range of optional covers tailored to suitself- employed workers.

Designed for customers who want to protect their home and theirbusiness with a single policy. Primarily aimed at non-manualtrades, Homework™ is a highly flexible policy which combinesthe best of Norwich Union's home policies together with acomprehensive range of business covers. Home contents, businesscontents and legal protection for both home and business areprovided as standard. Optional business covers include businessequipment, business interruption, employers liability, public andproduct liability, goods in transit and business and frozenfoods.

Specifically developed for sole traders and businesses with up tofive employees who either work from home or a third party site. Theproduct provides public liability, commercial legal protection andmoney as core covers as well as offering a wide range of optionalcovers such as employers' liability, contractors tools, businessequipment and business interruption to meet the needs of ourtargeted trade list.

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16% and is more than 1.5 times the size of itsnearest rival. It is also the largest personal lines insurer.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • One in five households
    • One in five motor vehicles
    • More than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio qualitybroadcast.

Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68.

For all life & pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

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