A map has today revealed the areas where companies let staff work from home the most, with Worthing, Stoke and Burnley among the cities at the top of the list of so-called ‘Zoom hotspots’.
New figures show how the coastal town of Worthing in West Sussex has seen a 650 percent increase in telecommuting job postings since the first Covid lockdown.
Figures also show a huge increase in the number of ‘flexible working positions’ in the town of Dundee in eastern Scotland, where job postings have risen by 319 per cent.
The formerly thriving industrial city of Burnley has also seen a 391 per cent increase in the number of jobs from home between March 2020 and March this year.
Stoke-on-Trent, best known as the home of England’s pottery industry, finished in third place with a 323 per cent increase in telecommuting postings in the last two years.
Meanwhile, port and coastal towns that were consistently among the top 25, with Southend (320 percent), Plymouth (308 percent) and Bournemouth (268 percent) all on the list.
The analysis, conducted by the online meeting place Zoom and the job site Indeed, comes amid a growing controversy over the future of work from home – which became the standard position during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.
Despite the abolition of all remaining Covid rules in the UK in March, millions of workers continue to work from home or have flexible working arrangements, including those of three days in the office and two days at home.
But continued work from home has sparked a dispute over the impact on the economy, with workers not spending on cafes and shops – which has deprived Britain’s main streets of much-needed income.
Meanwhile, the productivity of working from home has also been questioned, with teleworkers admitting that they squeeze in up to three naps a week and watch four TV episodes according to a recent study.
And business executives, including The Apprentice star Lord Alan Sugar, have also criticized the continued work of the home culture, describing it as ‘harmful’ to the economy and warning that it could put jobs on other related staff – such as office security and cleaning staff – at risk .
His comments came as The government continues its pressure to get officials back into office – despite opposition from stubborn union leaders.
Last month, Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered prime ministers to end Whitehall’s work from home culture as figures revealed how several key ministries – including the State Department and the Department of Education – had, on average, less than a third of office staff during the first week in April.
But union leaders and senior officials have pushed back, declaring that work ‘is no longer a place but what is being done’.
Britons who want to work from home should, according to recently analyzed figures, get jobs in coastal towns such as Worthing, Southend and Bournemouth
The coastal town of Worthing in West Sussex finished at the top of the list with a 650 percent increase in notices of telework from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to March this year
It was port and coastal cities that consistently figured in the top 25, with Southend (320 percent), Plymouth (308 percent) and Bournemouth (pictured) (268 percent) all on the list.
Southend (pictured: Southend beach) was one of the coastal towns listed as one of the top 25 ‘Zoom Towns’ in a new analysis
The figures from Zoom and Indeed show which areas have become ‘Zoom cities’ – those that offer an increasing number of jobs with hybrid work or home work.
According to data recorded between February 2020, before the pandemic, and March 2022, when most restrictions had been lifted, job advertisements offering candidates the flexibility to work remotely have more than tripled in each of the top 25 locations.
They have grown at a faster pace than the local job market in general – indicating that the increase in remote roles over the last two years has driven up opportunities in each area.
While southern coastal towns such as Worthing, Bournemouth and Southend were high on the list, only three of the so-called ‘Zoom cities’ are located in London or the south-east – regions traditionally associated with greater economic activity.
Northern cities, including Manchester (291 percent), Leeds (289 percent), Liverpool (241 percent) and Newcastle (231 percent), were on the top 25 list.
Meanwhile, Scottish 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 work, and Indeed’s data shows how greater access to remote roles is already driving growth in overall opportunities across the country.
Northern cities, including Manchester (291 percent), Leeds (289 percent), Liverpool (241 percent) and Newcastle (pictured) (231 percent), are in the top 25 list
Meanwhile, Scottish 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 guide?
In England, the official guidance to work from home, where possible, has ceased and workers will be able to return to the office.
In a speech in January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to talk to their employers about arrangements for their return.
Can I request flexible work?
Yes, by law, all employees have the right to request flexible work, which may include work from home. The only requirement is that they have worked for the employer for at least half a year (26 weeks).
Employers can only refuse these requests if they have reasonable grounds to do so, for example if the type of work in question cannot be performed from home. They can reject applications as long as they have a ‘good business reason’.
Alexandra Mizzi of Howard Kennedy, a law firm, said employers often used the potential impact on performance as a reason to refuse to work from home.
“But they will find it much harder to justify rejection when homework has worked quite well,” she added.
What if my boss tries to force me in?
Richard Fox, Kingsley Napley’s hiring partner, told MailOnline: ‘Employers can give’ ‘legal and reasonable’ ‘instructions to their employees, but I would question whether that would be a legitimate and reasonable reason.
‘I suspect there will be some difficult situations.
‘It’s a big leap to say that people can come in if it’s been illegal to do this so far.’
“During the pandemic, the use of video conferencing tools such as Zoom by SMEs was higher in the UK than in any other G7 country, and we are now beginning to see how greater accessibility of hybrid roles expands opportunities in areas outside London and the South East. .
“This underscores the crucial role that hybrid technologies can play in bringing the country up to level, and that 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 opportunities across the UK is a boon for workers, giving them much greater choice over where they live and work.
‘It is especially important for those who want or need flexibility to meet their off-the-job obligations.
‘Employers benefit from being able to expand geographical access to talent and accommodate workers who would otherwise face barriers, which is particularly valuable in a tight labor market.
“Furthermore, being able to offer employees a better work-life balance means that organizations can reap the benefits of a happier and more productive workforce.”
It comes as Lord Sugar this week cracked down on the continued work of home culture, which he described as ‘harmful’ to the economy.
In a Daily Mail opinion editor, he wrote: ‘Covid has had many devastating consequences, but – as far as business is concerned – the most damaging is the secondary plague it has triggered: Working From Home.
“It’s unfair to small businesses that rely on people multi-tasking – filling in here and there – something that is impossible to do from home.
‘This trend is bad news for business, for employees – and for the sandwich shops, cafes and taxi drivers who depend on people going into the office.’
He said the pandemic had “triggered a workaholic, legitimate culture where people demand – and are allowed – to work from home”.
Meanwhile, a study published in March revealed how Brits working from home typically take three naps during their work week.
According to the survey of 1,500 Britons, conducted by Sky Broadband, the average WFH is browsing social media nine times, sending messages to family and friends eight times, sharing three funny memes and shopping online twice.
They also play with a pet twice a day and look at celebrity or gossip sites 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 respondents said they got more done while 30.2 per cent said their productivity had dropped while working from home.
Meanwhile, a report from a Microsoft Surface survey conducted in November and December 2020 showed that 30 percent of workers reported an increase in their hours while working from home. But the same report showed that 60 percent felt less connected to teams and colleagues.