A map has today revealed the areas where companies are letting staff work from home most, with Worthing, Stoke and Burnley among the towns topping the list of so-called ‘Zoom hotspots’.
New figures show how the West Sussex seaside town of Worthing has seen a 650 per cent rise in jobs postings with remote working on offer since the first Covid lockdown.
Figures also show a huge increase in the number of ‘flexible working’ positions in the city of Dundee, east Scotland, where job postings have increased by 319 per cent.
The former booming industrial town of Burnley has also seen a 391 per cent rise increase in work from home job posts between March 2020 and March this year.
Stoke-on-Trent, best known as the home of England’s pottery industry, finished third with a 323 per cent increase in postings with remote working in the last two years.
Meanwhile port and seaside towns that featured consistently in the top 25, with Southend (320 per cent) Plymouth (308 per cent) and Bournemouth (268 per cent) all among the list.
The analysis, carried out by online meeting place Zoom and jobs site Indeed, comes amid a growing row over the future of work from home – which became the default position during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.
Despite all remaining Covid rules in England being lifted in March, millions of workers continue to work from home or have flexible working arrangements, including those on three days in the office and two days at home.
But the continued work from home policy has sparked a row over the impact on the economy, with workers not spending in cafes and shops – depriving Britain’s high streets of much-needed income.
Meanwhile, productivity of working from home has also been called into question, with remote workers admitting squeezing in up to three naps a week and watching four TV episodes, according to a recent survey.
And business chiefs, including The Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar, have also slammed the continued work from home culture, describing it as ‘damaging’ for the economy and warning it could put the jobs of other linked employees – such as office security and cleaning staff – at risk.
His comments came as the Government continues its push to get civil servants back to the office – despite resistance from stubborn union chiefs.
Last month Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered Cabinet ministers to end Whitehall’s work from home culture as figures revealed how several key ministries – including the Foreign Office and Department for Education – had on average less than a third of staff in the office over the first week in April.
But union bosses and senior civil servants have pushed back, declaring that work is ‘no longer a place but what is done’.
Britons who want to work from home should get jobs in seaside towns such as Worthing, Southend and Bournemouth, according to newly analysed figures
The West Sussex seaside town of Worthing finished top of the list, with a 650 per cent rise in postings with remote working from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 until March this year
It was port and seaside towns that featured consistently in the top 25, with Southend (320 per cent) Plymouth (308 per cent) and Bournemouth (pictured) (268 per cent) all among the list
Southend (pictured: Southend beach) was one of the seaside towns to feature as one of the top 25 ‘Zoom Towns’ in a new analysis
The figures by Zoom and Indeed show which areas have become ‘Zoom towns’ – those offering an increasing number of jobs with hybrid working or working from home.
According to the data, recorded 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.
They have 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.
While southern seaside towns such as Worthing, Bournemouth and Southend featured high in the list, only three of the so-called ‘Zoom towns’ are located in London or the South East – regions traditionally associated with greater economic activity.
Northern cities, including Manchester (291 per cent), Leeds (289 per cent) Liverpool (241 per cent) and Newcastle (231 per cent), featured in the top 25 list.
Meanwhile, Scottish towns and cities Edinburgh (304 per cent), Dundee (319 per cent) Aberdeen (231 per cent) and Glasgow (219 per cent) were all on the list.
Commenting on the statistics, Phil Perry, Head of UK & EMEA North at Zoom, said: ‘The UK has the potential to be a global leader in hybrid working, and Indeed’s data shows how greater access to remote roles is already helping to drive growth in overall opportunities across the country.
Northern cities, including Manchester (291 per cent), Leeds (289 per cent) Liverpool (241 per cent) and Newcastle (pictured) (231 per cent), featured in the top 25 list
Meanwhile, Scottish towns and cities Edinburgh (pictured) (304 per cent), Dundee (319 per cent) Aberdeen (231 per cent) and Glasgow (219 per cent) were all on the list
What are the rules around returning to the office?
What is the official guidance?
In England, the official guidance to work from home where possible has ended and workers will be able to head back to the office.
Speaking in January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on people to speak to their employers about arrangements for their return.
Can I request flexible working?
Yes, all employees have the right by law to request flexible working, which can include working from home. The only requirement is that they have worked for the employer for at least half a year (26 weeks).
Employers can turn these requests down only if they have reasonable cause to do so, for example if the type of work involved cannot be done from home. They can refuse applications as long as they have a ‘good business reason’.
Alexandra Mizzi of Howard Kennedy, a legal firm, said employers often used the potential impact on performance as a reason to refuse working from home requests.
‘However, they will find it much harder to justify refusal when home working has worked out fairly well,’ she added.
What if my boss tries to force me in?
Richard Fox, employment partner at Kingsley Napley, told MailOnline: ‘Employers can give ”lawful and reasonable” instructions to their employees, but I would question whether this would be a lawful and reasonable reason.
‘I suspect there will be some difficult situations to come.
‘It’s a big jump to say that people can come in whether hitherto it has been unlawful to do this.’
‘During the pandemic, adoption of video conferencing tools like Zoom by SMEs was higher in the UK than in any other G7 country, and we are now beginning to see how greater availability of hybrid roles is expanding opportunity in areas outside of London and the South East.
‘This underlines the vital role hybrid technologies can play in levelling up the country, and getting the conditions right now will help the UK reap long-term economic benefits.’
Jack Kennedy, UK Economist at Indeed, said: ‘The increased availability of remote and hybrid options across the UK is a boon for workers, giving them much greater choice over where they live and work.
‘It’s particularly important for those who want or need flexibility to accommodate their commitments outside of work.
‘Employers benefit in being able to widen geographic access to talent and accommodate workers who would otherwise face barriers, which is especially valuable in a tight labour market.
‘Moreover, being able to offer employees better work-life balance means organisations can reap the benefits of a happier and more productive workforce.’
It comes as Lord Sugar this week slammed the continued work from home culture, which he described as ‘damaging’ to the economy.
In a Daily Mail opinion-editorial, he wrote: ‘Covid has had many devastating consequences but — as far as business goes — the most damaging is the secondary plague it has unleashed: Working From Home.
‘It’s unfair towards small businesses who rely on people multi-tasking — filling in here and there — something that’s impossible to do from home.
‘This trend is bad news for business, for employees — and for the sandwich shops, cafes and taxi drivers who rely on people going into the office.’
He said the pandemic had ‘unleashed a workshy, entitled culture in which people demand — and are allowed — to work from home’.
Meanwhile, a survey published in March revealed how Britons who work from home typically take three naps during their working week.
According to the of survey of 1,500 Britons, carried out by by Sky Broadband, the average WFH-er browses social media nine times, messages family and friends eight times, shares three funny memes and shops online twice.
They also play with a pet twice a day and look at celebrity or gossip websites once, researchers found.
However some studies have suggested that working from home makes workers more productive. According to a report by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data, 28.9 per cent of people surveyed said that they got more done, while 30.2 per cent said that their productivity had fallen while working from home.
Meanwhile, a report by Microsoft Surface survey carried out in November and December 2020 found that 30 per cent of workers reported an increase in their hours whilst working from home. However the same report found 60 per cent felt less connected to teams and colleagues.