- Towns and cities around the UK have seen sharp increases in remote job postings since the start of the pandemic.
- Many of the places with the biggest increases are outside London and the South East, suggesting potential to help with levelling up opportunities outside traditional economic powerhouses.
- As well as offering greater flexibility to workers, embracing remote work means employers can widen their geographic access to talent.
A sharp increase in jobs offering remote work is driving new opportunities across the UK. Indeed has worked with communications-technology company Zoom to identify the locations across the country that have seen the most significant growth in job postings advertising the potential for working on a remote or hybrid basis. We analysed the difference in postings between February 2020, prior to the pandemic, and May 2022, when restrictions had been lifted.
In each of the top 20 locations, the share of job adverts that offer candidates the flexibility to work remotely has more than tripled and is growing at a faster pace than the overall jobs available for that area.
Worthing, near Brighton, ranks first with a 760% increase in remote roles and a 66% increase in total job postings compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is followed by Stoke, Chatham and Southend, all of which have more than four times as many remote roles on offer. Only three of the top 20 locations on the list are located in the South East or London – regions traditionally associated with greater economic activity. The remainder are in the North, the Midlands, Wales and Scotland, aligning with the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, which aims to spread opportunity and prosperity more evenly across the UK.
Many of these places have high employment shares in service sectors where remote work is feasible and the share of job postings offering it has soared during the pandemic. The highest share of remote jobs is found in categories like tech, marketing and media, sectors often associated with large urban areas. But when looked at in terms of percentage growth since before the pandemic, a number of other services categories show large increases, including accounting, insurance, administrative assistance, architecture and human resources. By catalysing remote work in these occupations, which have risen from a lower base, the pandemic appears to have broadened remote work opportunities across smaller or more geographically dispersed towns and cities.
Across the UK overall, the share of remote job postings is just above one-in-ten, representing a 187% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
UK’s top 20 remote hiring hotspots
While cities have seen an increase in the share of jobs that offer remote options —such as Manchester with a 247% rise compared to pre-pandemic levels —in towns such as Warrington, Mansfield, Birkenhead and Northampton there are also now more opportunities for people to stay local and work remotely or on a hybrid basis.
The increased availability of remote and hybrid options across the UK is a boon for workers, giving them 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. The trend can also help drive the rejuvenation of many rural and suburban areas, particularly those which were previously commuter towns that rarely saw high street visitors during the day.
While there are also some challenges around how to manage remote and hybrid teams, employers can benefit in being able to widen geographic access to talent and accommodate workers who would otherwise face barriers. That’s especially valuable in a tight labour market such as the one we are currently in.
Indeed job postings were aggregated by Primary Urban Area (PUA) — a measure of the built-up area of a city — based on the location of the job. PUAs provide a consistent measure of economic activity in urban areas across the UK, making them distinct from city regions or combined authority geographies. A complete list is available here.
Postings are classified as open to remote work if the job title or description includes terms like “remote work”, “telecommute”, “work from home”, or similar terms, or if the location is explicitly listed as remote. Remote job posting shares are not seasonally adjusted.