• Study from Three identifies the people turning their backs on office jobs to become rare crystals dealers, bee farmers and personal trainers to holistic therapist, doll makers and electricians
  • Public toilets, zoos and mountain tops also made the list for the most weird and wonderful places people work from
  • Passion and family is what drives these #NotDeskers to succeed
  • Theresa May was among the top person the UK’s business owners would want to employ for “sheer determination and guts”, alongside Paul O’Grady for marketing and Mary Berry for product development

With more than three quarters (78%) of small business owners saying needing to be digital is important in running their business and a fifth (20%) admitting to being fed up of office politics, it seems the beauty of always being online is that you can literally work when and how you want.

These findings were taken from an in-depth survey* commissioned by Three to launch its new range of business plans, ‘Three Means Business’. Three quizzed more than 5,000 sole traders, entrepreneurs and small businesses to reveal how a majority of UK business owners today, are routed in #NotDesking. This is a new type of small business worker, who have nothing but ambition and a phone and turning their passions into a reality.

Three Means Business is tailored to the UK’s brightest small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs. From dog groomer, gym owner or therapists, doll maker, taxi driver or taxidermist, Three is ripping up the rulebook to allow small business to concentrate on the things they love.

Offering not just a mobile contract, Three is also giving these companies a ‘step-up’ by offering them additional free subscriptions to the some of the best business tools out there. These include website and logo builder Wix, accounting software FreshBooks, the print and design company MOO, and office provider, WeWork.

Three is also supporting this #NotDesking scene by offering all new business customers the chance to takeover its own billboard space across the UK.

The research revealed the people turning their backs on office jobs were pursuing the animal care business in the North of England (24%), a third (30%) becoming part of the arts and entertainment industry residing in the South of England, 19% turning their path to media and marketing in London, and 12% of hospitality and leisure small business owners in Scotland.

The study has identified that this thriving entrepreneurial scene appears to be driven by passion (42%), money (39%), family (33%) and a desire to help people (31%), revealing a new wave of worker succeeding through kindness and a sense of social responsibility.

When asked where the coolest, and weirdest places they’ve ever sent emails, made conference calls or sealed deals from, the most popular answer was public toilets which accounted for 17% of the respondents, including those on trains, in airports and even the toilet of a friend’s house “to get some peace and quiet”. This was closely followed by public places, including zoos, with one business owner admitting she took part in a teleconference call in London Zoo whilst her colleagues and clients could hear the animals in the background.

Even when on holiday Brits are still hard at work – cruise ships, trains and several tourist spots made the list of places people work from. The Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh Castle, The Vatican, Jokang Temple in Tibet, a Norwegian fjord, volcanoes and even a Polish monastery all got a shout out.

Theresa May was mentioned as one of the most popular public figures they’d most like to employ because she’d be a great negotiator and has “sheer persistence and guts”. Richard Branson, unsurprisingly, made the cut due to his business credentials, as did Alan Sugar, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Some of the more out-there entries included Paul O’Grady for marketing and promotions, Stephen Fry for advertising and Mary Berry for product development.

When it comes to 18-24 year old small business owners, one in five (20%) can work on their business anywhere in the world as long as there is a WiFi connection and nearly all couldn’t run it without an internet connection (95%) or laptop (84%). Whilst over a half (58%) said their business wouldn’t survive without their tablet, and 40% would potentially go bust without social media. In fact, a tablet was the most important device when it came to running a business across all ages surveyed, followed by social media.

The survey revealed the most popular apps used for business by all small business owners are Facebook (40%), WhatsApp (27%), Dropbox (25%), Office 365 (25%), Twitter (22%) and Instagram (19%).

The survey also disproved the theory that millennials are lazy. One in five (18%) of young people surveyed run a business while being employed elsewhere. What’s more, nearly a quarter (21%) have told their employer about their own business. These diligent millennials then spend an average two to four hours a day, on top of their day job, working on it.

Shadi Halliwell, chief marketing officer at Three, said: “In the gloomy landscape of Brexit, this report reflects how we are conducting business in the UK today and how much the world has changed.

“Mobile devices have given every business owner the opportunity to be free from the traditional office environment and even core working hours. The typical ‘9 to 5’ working day is just not a reality for most of these innovative types of people. Equally, there is a trend to having a day job but focusing on building the business of your dreams on the side, demonstrating the passion that is out there.

“We are aiming to give these inspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups and sole traders the support they need to do the job they love and continue to encourage UK businesses to flourish.”

Three has specialist business advisors** available in every store across the country for #NotDeskers so anyone can walk in and get dedicated business advice on various issues.

A SIM only business tariff starts at just £9 per month for 2GB of data. For contract handset plans there are a range of devices available and start at £41 on a 24 month contract. For more information on the ‘Three Means Business’ tariff, people can go to


All media enquiries to be directed to Three’s Press Office at Pretty Green:  / 0207 490 3449


*About the #Notdesking Report
5,000 respondents took part in the study, hosted by YouGov. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 9th April 2019. The survey was carried out online amongst small business owners of UK adults (aged 18+).

**About the Three Means Business advisor service
Advisors can be found in all Three stores but the following Three stores have an upweighted business experience: Harlow, Brighton, Edinburgh Fort, Glasgow Argyle, Manchester Trafford Centre, Manchester Arndale, Portsmouth, Southampton, Birmingham High Street, Brent Cross, Cardiff, Dunfermline, Edgware, Edinburgh West, Gateshead, Glenrothes, Inverness, Kidderminster, Lewisham, Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Sheffield Meadowhall, Nottingham Long row, Oxford Street and Oxford Westgate.

About Three
Three is a communications company focused on connecting people to people, people to things and things to things.
Today, Three has more than 10 million customers who use over 3.5 times more mobile data than the industry average. Our network covers over 99% of the UK population.

Three has the UK’s leading 5G spectrum portfolio holding more than the rest of the industry combined. Three is the only operator able to meet the ITU 2020 standard for full 5G services.

Three was voted the Best Network for Data at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards, as well as Best Network for Roaming by uSwitch, and the Best High Street Retailer at the Mobile Industry Awards.

Three has a Net Promoter Score of +13, the best of any UK network, alongside +18 score for Employee Net Promoter Score, reflecting a high level of employee engagement.

Three UK is part of the CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd group of companies which has mobile operations in 11 countries. We employ more than 4,000 people across our offices in Maidenhead, Glasgow and Reading and our 300 retail stores.

About FreshBooks
FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed exclusively for service-based business owners and independent professionals. The company has helped more than 20 million people worldwide process billions of dollars with its ridiculously easy-to-use invoicing, time-tracking expense management, and online payments features. Recognized with nine Stevie awards for best customer service in the world, the company’s mantra is to “execute extraordinary experiences everyday.” Based in Toronto, Canada, FreshBooks serves paying customers in 160 countries.

About MOO
MOO is an online print and design company headquartered in London, England. Passionate about great design and the difference it can make to the world, MOO offers a variety of premium print products including business cards, postcards, notebooks and more. With six locations across the United Kingdom and United States, MOO serves over 190 countries and was founded in 2006 by CEO and Founder, Richard Moross MBE.

The full #NotDesking report from Three

A new insights report from Three into the latest trend to hit the entrepreneurial scene.

Previous research from Three found that being in business can be lonely and overwhelming, and what the majority of new business owners value most is advice and recommendations about HR, tax, legal issues as well as access to a community of like-minded people and entrepreneurs. The YouGov study confirmed this.


Millennials, in particular, are ditching traditional industries such as manufacturing, accountancy, and legal services, in favour of running businesses centred around creativity. Almost a quarter (24%) of businesses run by 18-24-year-olds in the UK now sit in the realms of arts and entertainment, while nearly one in five (17%) offer PR, advertising or marketing services. Instead, these companies outsource services such as accounting, website management and customer services to experts. Accounting, for example, was outsourced by around a fifth (23%) of business owners across all age ranges and locations.


Having access to a dedicated workspace also featured high-up on business owners’ lists. A fifth (21%) of young business owners said they struggled to work from home because there are too many distractions, or they want to be able to separate their personal and work lives. When looking for remote working places, free Wi-Fi was the most important requirement followed by a quiet environment.

Interestingly, coffee shops are no longer the go-to place for this remote working, instead opting for cultural places such as museums, or shared spaces. Over a quarter (27%) said they rely on working from their client’s location, while 12% said they’ll work anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.


Among those business owners who do work at home from their bedrooms and garages, 14% are 18-24 entrepreneurs. Weirdly, a small percentage (2%) of owners in the 35-44 age bracket said they worked from their bathrooms.

In regards to getting access to like-minded communities and experts, these same business owners rely on meeting other business people through friends, or via Facebook Groups, according to the survey results.

The survey also gave insight into the state of the UK business space and specifically how having the best data tariff can make a difference.


When asked how they identify themselves, a third of respondents across all age ranges said they were anti 9-5. The highest percentage of young people compared to other age groups identify as entrepreneurs and older groups (45+) were more likely to identify as anti 9-5.


Interestingly 34% of both male and female business owners are more likely to employ their own gender, with nearly a quarter (14%) of South East based businesses having mostly female staff. Amongst small business owners who declare that most of their staff is mostly younger (under 30 years old), 13% are based in Scotland and North East.

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