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Could hybrid work be the solution to 'levelling up'?


28 Apr, 2022

Unless you've been living under a rock these past couple of years, you've probably heard of the UK government's plans for 'Levelling Up'. Though it has regularly come under ridicule by commentators and comedians alike, its goal is one that serves to benefit everyone in the country, particularly those outside of London for once. 

While historically, investment and talent has always been focussed on the capital, (with the UK suffering greater regional wealth disparities than most other comparable countries) plans to level up should see an economic boost for regional areas. But many are wondering about the logistics behind this campaign - what does it take to 'level up'? Well, we think hybrid work could be the answer. But let's not get ahead of ourselves - first let's take a step back to ask...

What is levelling up?

A key aspect of the Conservative Party manifesto when they were elected back in 2019, 'Levelling Up' is the plan to create equal work opportunities and spread wealth across the UK. In terms of the logistics behind the campaign, the transport and broadband industry have each received billions of pounds worth of investment to aid this goal. Overall the goverment plans to increase public funding in research and development outside of the South-East by 40% by 2030.

So far, areas that have received large amounts of extra investement to 'level up' include Darlington, Burton-on-Trent, Crawley, Doncaster, Lincoln, Nuneaton and many more.

Spread the opportunity, gain more talent

Of course, part of the plan is to create more regional jobs and therefore, attract more talent.

Historically, London has dominated the UK job sector, with 35% of new jobs being advertised with a London base from 2007-2017. Meanwhile, the populations of the North-East, Wales, and Northern Ireland vastly outweighed new job opportunities.
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But as rent prices and bills continue to soar, the capital has become more and more exclusive. Many young graduates are being forced to move home after university, only able to scrape by on low wages that barely cover the cost of rent. A 2020 study found that 85% of graduates could no longer afford to relocate for a job, making a London move nothing short of impossible. One can only imagine what that figure looks like today given recent price hikes.

The rise of remote work

But remote and hybrid work could be the answer to this talent crisis.

Despite Jacob Rees-Mogg's very public dislike for remote work, as of February 2022, 1 in 10 UK jobs were advertised as work-from-home positions. This was already up by a fifth compared to December's figures, showing that remote work is continually on the rise. According to anaylsis from Hazelwoods; "Employing remote workers meant roles could be advertised to a larger pool of talent as recruitment is not confined by proximity to offices. It also makes jobs attractive to candidates with young children or other care duties."

In the wake of our current cost of living crisis, more employees are pushing for work-from-home or work-near-home opportunities to help them save on fuel. In a shocking survey of 3,000 workers by rectruitment company, Randstad, it was found that a whopping 9 in 10 employees were petitioning their employers to let them work remotely as they could no longer afford to travel by car. And despite the government's plans to 'level up' outside of London, it is those very same regions who are suffering worst, with areas like Northern Ireland and Wales being hit hardest by fuel costs due to a lack of public transport.

Remote work is hitting the mainstream, and more and more companies are following suit. Most recently, Deloitte joined the ranks of hybrid employers, closing some of their flagship offices. In a dramatic step towards permanent hybrid working, the company closed four of its offices in Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Southampton, instead allowing employees to work remotely - whether that's from home, or near home.

And they're in good company! Many of our clients have opted to do the same thing already - from Chaucer to Audeliss, and Aster Group to KickItOut. They know that offering flexible work solutions helps to get the most out of their current employees, and attract top talent from around the country (and even the globe).

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Hybrid work is the answer to levelling up

Whether you like it or not, hybrid work (and all of its offshoots) is here to stay. And it's proving popular. A 2021 report by Microsoft found that 73% of workers expected to retain the right to work-from-home for at least a few days per week after the pandemic. 

Flexible working could not be more vital to the government's plans for 'levelling up'. As remote and hybrid jobs continue to rise, new talent will no longer be expected to congregate in the increasingly unaffordable capital. Workers will have the freedom to live where they want, and those forced to move back to regional areas after university will no longer miss out on opportunities. It's only a matter of time until flexible working becomes part of government policy.

We believe that opportunities should be spread across all regions of the UK. That's why we strive to have coworking spaces that everyone can access, whether you're in London or the Leicestershire countryside.

At NearU, we put flexible working at your fingertips. Our award-winning app gives you immediate access to a network of on-demand workspaces, so you can simply search, book, and work wherever (and whenever) you need to. Whether you’re looking for a meeting room equidistant between remote colleagues, or a hot desk if working from your kitchen just isn’t cutting it, we've got you covered.