The internet isn't working. This is one inference we could draw from an ONS report this week. It shows that only 1.4 million employees, or 5.6% of the total, work from home*. This is a rise of only 1.5 percentage points since 1998.
This looks like a small rise given that we are supposed to have had a technological revolution since 1998, with broadband internet, Skypeing and mobile telephony making remote working much more feasible.
So, why hasn't homeworking increased more?
Of course, for many jobs it's just infeasible; you can't stack shelves at Tesco from home. And some people claim that we are more productive if surrounded by inspiring colleagues whom we can bounce ideas off, though in my experience this is...
But on the other hand, there are huge costs to working away from home: renting office space, transport costs and the waste of time spent travelling - and this is not to mention the stress and unhappiness of commuting.
Why, then, are employers still keen to incur these costs? There are two possibilities.
One is suggested by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson in The Second Machine Age. They point out that when electricity was introduced into American factories in the 1890s, productivity growth didn't initially change even though electricity was to revolutionize the economy. The reason for this, they say, is that "general purpose technologies need complements" - and the most important of these are changes in organization and business processes. But, they say, it was only after 30 years - when managers brought up on the pre-electricity era retired to be replaced by younger ones - that such changes were made to take full advantage of electricity.
It could be that a similar thing is retarding home-working: bosses accustomed to seeing their lackeys in the office aren't willing or able to make the organizational changes that would exploit new technologies.
There is, though, an alternative theory, associated with Stephen Marglin (pdf). He argues that the early factories supplanted home-working not because they were technically more efficient, but because they gave capitalists more control over the labour process and hence the power to extract more of the gains from the employment relationship for themselves. A similar thing might explain employers' aversion to home-working today. Or, more loosely, perhaps narcissistic managers want to feel a sense of power from seeing employees working.
What's consistent with this view - though not proof of it - is that the ONS finds that workers in higher-paid occupations such as technicians and managers are disproportionately likely to work from home. Some of us have the bargaining power to demand that we work in more pleasant conditions.
I don't know which of these theories is right. Luckily, though, the fact that I work from home has probably improved my health sufficiently to increase my chances of living long enough to find out.
* defined as spending more than half one's working time at home.