Regional Remote Working Trends across the UK

Published on Jun 23, 2023

Updated on Aug 25, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

Remote working has seen a huge surge in recent years, and UK  workers are no stranger to this trend. Supported by various digital tools and communication platforms, remote workers made the home their office - instead of making the office their home. 

While it surged particularly during the pandemic, with companies being forced to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances and prioritise the health and safety of their workforce, remote working is still one of the key global labour market trends for 2023. Plus, data suggests it will continue to be relevant for years to come. 

We have previously explored the shift in ways of working in the UK - not only the growth of more flexible working options, but how companies are being clearer with their working patterns preferences when advertising for new roles. Within the UK, not every urban area is adopting remote working at the same level. In this article, we dive deeper into UK urban areas in order to understand regional trends and their potential impacts on the workforce and society. 

Where are people working from home?

Lightcast data shows that working from home is overwhelmingly urban, with UK cities accounting for 80% of all job postings posted online in 2022, but 90% of all remote or hybrid job postings. On average, 5% of job postings in non-urban areas were remote, compared to  8% in urban areas.

Generally, larger cities and towns with better-performing economies tend to be stronger hotspots for remote working. The cities with the highest share of job postings mentioning remote or hybrid work, compared to postings that don’t mention them, are Cardiff and Bristol. In Cardiff, the share is 13%, while in Bristol it is 12% - a proportion that is four times higher than the cities at the bottom of the ranking. On the other side of the spectrum there is Burnley and Birkenhead - the towns  with the lowest share of remote working postings, with 3% and 4% respectively. 

Another interesting aspect to take into account is the size and economic strength of these four cities, with Bristol and Cardiff having faster growing economies, and Burnley and Birkenhead being less strong economically. 

The UK's biggest hotspots for remote work

Another way of looking at this is to identify which areas make up the biggest share of the total number of job postings mentioning remote work, which we’ve shown in the chart below. Manchester takes the lead as the city with the highest share of remote job postings in the UK - 4.08%. Not much lower are London, Birmingham and Bristol, accounting for 3.57%, 3.11%, and 2.19%, respectively. Smaller urban areas have the lowest share, which shows a similar trend as the previous graph - remote/hybrid work is far more popular in larger cities. Worthing and Burnley have the smallest share of UK remote job postings, with 0.10%. 

The implications of working from home

Stronger performing cities are the places where working from home is more likely, due to the nature of the jobs they offer. They are also the places where businesses face the biggest competition in recruitment. In the tight labour market we are currently witnessing, it is particularly beneficial for them to broaden the talent pool beyond the city boundary by offering remote work. 

Every worker and organisation will have their own preference when it comes to ways of working. Some may prefer face-to-face interaction and believe that collaboration is best done in person while, for others, productivity rises when working with less distractions, and satisfaction levels at work are higher. It’s worth looking at both the potential opportunities, as well as potential drawbacks that working from home could have on your workers, organisation, and region. 

A recent survey revealed that 77% of workers in the UK, Europe and US cite flexible working hours as the single most important benefit they look for in new roles. Therefore, the underlying motive behind remote working may well be an increased preference for better work/life balance - for which other company benefits play a part too. 

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Working from home still accounts for a minority of jobs everywhere - and its growth is only notable in some regions. However, businesses still need to take into consideration the preferences of their local talent and their regional market trends, even if this  means meeting candidates halfway and reaching a consensus with them. 

Understanding remote working trends in your region

Diving deeper into Lightcast Job Postings data, we can see that national and regional trends give us very different views on WFH trends. Therefore, what is currently popular in one UK city doesn’t necessarily translate into trends in your region. To understand your local labour market and talent supply, it really is vital to look into more granular data. 

Whether you are a UK business looking to boost your talent strategy for 2023 or a regional development agency looking to understand labour market trends in your region, we have the data you need. Get in touch with the Lightcast team below and let’s solve your labour market challenges together.

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