One of the biggest changes to many people‚’s everyday lives over the past 9 months has been the growth of home, or remote, working. This is a trend which had started pre-pandemic, but has been accelerated massively subsequently. What‚’s more, there appears to be a general consensus that, even once we are no longer constrained by COVID-19, the traditional Monday to Friday office working pattern is unnecessary and inefficient for both employers and employees, and should not be returned to.
At the same time, the government has promised to ‚’level up‚’ the country, and has proposed to achieve this in part by moving civil service jobs out of London and into the rest of the country. Currently it proposes to do this by moving the offices of specific government departments to selected towns and cities across the country.
Given the remote working trends outlined above though, this approach already seems outdated, and risks missing an opportunity to use these wider societal trends to achieve the government‚’s stated aim more effectively. With respect to the levelling up agenda, where a person lives is far more important than an office location that their job is allocated to, but which they may visit increasingly rarely. This is because home working encourages greater engagement, involvement and economic activity with a person‚’s local community. A more flexible workforce could, with the right interventions and encouragement, achieve a far more even distribution of well paid, secure jobs across the whole of the UK, and of the benefits that this brings.