Tech firm Zoom has called on the UK government to support co-working hubs across the regions.
The videoconferencing giant says giving workers the option of a third, local location to work from – beyond the office or home – would help minimise the need for employees to commute daily out of their community and incentivise them to visit their local town centre during the day, helping to revitalise the high street.
A similar scheme is already running in 200 locations across Ireland, whilst a pilot is underway in Wales.
Rosie Freshwater (pictured) is co-founder of RUME2, a co-working, meeting and event space in Chichester that has seen a three-fold increase in revenue from the start of the pandemic to February 2022, with membership numbers growing from 250 to around 792.
“RUME2 was born out of the need to provide a space where people could escape from their home offices and work flexibly – something that has proven to be invaluable over the past two years,” she says.
“Chichester born and bred, my co-founder and I were passionate about rejuvenating the traditional market town and supporting those who were able to work locally, as the requirements for many to commute into the city every day had changed.
“While the pandemic hit us hard at times, we have seen a huge increase in demand for our services from one-man bands seeking a new place to work or multiple people from a large organisation who have downsized their office space.
“It also provides the community with a space to host workshops and talks that aim to inspire action, encourage innovation and ultimately bring the community together.”
Top 25 remote hiring hotspots
The call follows new data, aggregated by recruitment platform Indeed in collaboration with Zoom, which shows how a significant increase in remote and hybrid working roles is helping to drive new opportunities across the UK.
Using its own recruitment data, Indeed has worked with Zoom to identify the locations across the country that have seen the most significant growth in remote and hybrid job opportunities, analysing the difference in postings between February 2020, prior to the pandemic, and March 2022, when most restrictions had been lifted.
In each of the top 25 locations, job adverts that offer candidates the flexibility to work remotely have more than tripled and grown at a faster pace than the local jobs market overall – indicating that the rise in remote roles over the last two years has driven up opportunity in each area.
Worthing, near Brighton, ranks first with a 650% increase in remote roles and a 50% increase in total jobs available compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is followed by Burnley, Stoke, Southend and Dundee, all of which today have more than four times as many remote roles on offer compared to before the pandemic.
Ten of the locations on the list are situated in so-called ‘Red Wall’ areas, demonstrating a link between greater flexibility and the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda which aims to spread opportunity and prosperity more evenly across the nation as it navigates the post-pandemic recovery.
Only three are located in London or the South East – regions traditionally associated with greater economic activity.
Rise of Zoom Towns
While cities have seen an increase in the share of jobs that offer remote options, such as Manchester with a 291% rise compared to pre-pandemic levels, these benefits are also being felt in towns such as Warrington, Northampton and Birkenhead, where there are now more potential opportunities for people to stay local and work remotely or on a hybrid basis.
As well as providing potential for local growth, increased job opportunities across the country are leading to the emerging trend of ‘Zoom Towns’ – a phrase coined during the pandemic that describes new regional economic activity as workers moved away from traditional city hubs.
Zoom says this has the potential to help drive the regeneration of both rural and suburban areas, particularly those which were previously commuter towns that may have rarely seen high street visitors during the day.
|Rank||Town/city||Region||Growth in jobs offering remote working (%)||Change in all job postings (%)|
|4||Southend||East of England||320||16|
|10||Leeds||Yorkshire & Humber||289||39|
|12||Ipswich||East of England||282||66|
|25||Sheffield||Yorkshire & Humber||217||50|