computers at home

People who have a computer at home say it makes them more productive at the office according to a new survey for the Office of the e-Envoy. And three-quarters say it helps them to achieve greater work-life balance.

According to people polled in the survey who were asked how having a computer at home may have helped their employer, 61% have improved their IT skills, 65% are more familiar with the Internet and 51% have learned skills at home which help them at work. In total, eight of 10 employees said their employer had seen a benefit from them having a computer at home.

A further 77% believe having a computer at home helps them to better manage the balance between home and work. When asked, three out of 10 people believe that having a computer at home means they are more in control and suffer less from stress as a direct result.

Improvements to work-life balance arise because 60% use computers to deal with personal issues out of work time, 55% get things done more easily including bill paying and shopping and 60% save time researching holidays and purchases on the Internet. A further 32% enjoy the flexibility that having a computer at home gives them when it comes to working outside office hours so that they can leave work early.

Those surveyed also point to softer benefits that arise. Thirty-five percent use the Internet less at work on personal issues, 33% have been able to work from home when necessary, 24% report that they can work from home lessening the impact of disruptive events, and 21% are more responsive in busy periods because they can work from home.

The release of the survey results coincides with the launch of guidelines on 19 January by the Office of the e-Envoy, working with DTI and DfES, that will make it easier for employers to loan computers to their employees for use at home.

E-Envoy Andrew Pinder, speaking at the launch of the HCI Guidelines said of the results:

‘The message is clear, companies should be doing everything that they can to encourage their employees to have a PC at home. It’s good for business and it’s good for peoples’ home lives as well. For too long benefits have tended to reward just the person receiving it, often at a significant cost to either the individual or the company, HCI rewards entire families and, more importantly, is an easy and cost effective benefit to the whole family.

‘Getting the balance right between work and home life is a critical issue for employers. This research suggests that those people who have computers at home are enjoying real benefits over their colleagues that don’t.’


NOP Research Group carried out a survey of adults aged 15 years and over using a quota sample. The sample was designed to be representative of all adults in telephone owning households in Great Britain. The research was conducted in two waves on 14-16 November and 21–23 November 2003. The survey was carried out alongside the consultation on HCI conducted by the OeE between September and December 2003.

Interviewing was carried out using fully trained and supervised market research interviewers. Interviews were carried out by telephone, using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI).

Completed interviews were subjected to a 10 per cent field check.

Notes to editors

In the UK, the 1999 Finance Act introduced a £500 annual exemption from the taxable benefit of loaned computers. This, when combined with a salary sacrifice arrangement between employer and employees, provides a framework which closely mirrors that found in Sweden. The Office of the e-Envoy is part of the Prime Minister’s Delivery and Reform team based in the Cabinet Office. The primary focus of the Office of the e-Envoy is to improve the delivery of public services and achieve long term cost savings by joining-up online government services around the needs of customers. The e-Envoy is responsible for ensuring that all government services are available electronically by 2005 with key services achieving high levels of use.

The Office continues to ensure that the country, its citizens and its businesses derive maximum benefit from the knowledge economy. It works to meet the Prime Minister’s target for internet access for all who want it by 2005 and supports work across Government to develop the UK as a world leader for electronic business.