Hybrid working across the UK

Most employers have accepted that allowing staff some flexibility in where they work is the new normal. But as they strive to achieve the optimum combination of home and office working, regional variations are emerging. This is what hybrid looks like around the UK

For many UK workers, the flexibility afforded by hybrid working has become a key benefit. According to a recent survey by Microsoft, more than half of workers would consider quitting their job if hybrid working options were removed. But while hybrid working has been a blessing for some, the benefits are yet to spread evenly across the country.

The data below ranks the suitability of UK cities for hybrid working based on index scores for factors considered important for enabling and maintaining hybrid-working arrangements. Mid-sized cities in the north of England and in Scotland generally fare well, while some of the lowest performers were found in Wales and the Midlands. London was also listed among the 10 worst cities for hybrid working.

Considering the regional differences, it’s little wonder that 36% of workers would consider moving to a different region for a better hybrid working experience. That sentiment is perhaps partly responsible for the so-called exodus from London that has occurred since the pandemic and associated widespread adoption of hybrid-working policies. 

In the first half of 2021, Londoners purchased a staggering 56,750 homes outside the M25, 66% above the average from 2015-19, according to research by Hamptons, an estate and letting agent. The trend continued in the first half of 2022, as London-based buyers snatched up another 40,540 properties outside the Greater London ringway. What’s telling about these figures is not just the spike in sales, but the makeup of the buyers: in H1 2021, 80% of those 56,000 homes were purchased by movers or first-time buyers; in 2022, it was 78%.

Just how important is hybrid working?

In most UK regions, employees expected to be able to work remotely for about 2.5 days per week. On average, workers in Scotland expect the most flexibility (2.8 days), while those in the North East and the South West were satisfied with two days working remotely.

Although the capital was ranked among the 10 worst cities for hybrid working, London-based workers are certainly enjoying the financial benefits of hybrid working. The average Londoner saves nearly £58 every week - more than £230 per month - thanks to hybrid working. Those train journeys, coffees meetings and post-work pints add up fast.

But the cost of daily commutes into the office is measured by more than the price of a train or bus ticket. In every region across the UK, the average worker spends more than 45 minutes travelling to and from the office every time they make the trip. In the East of England and the South East, workers spend roughly an hour doing the daily commute, while the average London commute clocks in at nearly 80 minutes.