Post Pandemic Places, a major new report from think tank Demos and Legal & General, has found that huge increases in shedworking and homeworking, coupled with a desire for continued flexibility, could support significant increases in local spending. Consequently, they are calling on the government to incentivise the establishment of more local offices and hybrid-working initiatives.
According to the new research, 65% of the working population were forced to change their place of work during 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Of these, 79% want to continue to have some form of remote working in future. However, the findings - taken from a poll of 20,000 adults - indicate that a desire to work remotely is not necessarily the same as wanting to work from home all of the time.
Relatively high levels of support were recorded for ‘local desk space’. This was particularly stark among younger people, with one fifth of those in their twenties rating it their top priority for employment premises in their locality. When asked how people were intending to spend their money once the restrictions were over, the research found that 36% of people plan to spend more money locally than they did before the pandemic. Among people required to work from home, this rose to 47%.
The report suggests there is an opportunity for government and business to support more hybrid working and flexible local desk space, to give people the flexibility they want and also make progress on the 'levelling up' agenda, by spreading spending power across a wider geographic area.
As a result of its findings, Demos is calling on the Government to promote remote working as a regeneration tool. An example would be introducing employee tax incentives, such as ‘remote-working vouchers’, similar in design to the current childcare voucher scheme.
"Throughout the pandemic, an overwhelming number of people were forced to change the location they work in, whether they were required to work from home or furloughed," said Kitty Ussher, Chief Economic Advisor at Demos and author of the report. "But for those people, as our new report out today demonstrates, they’ve built a new-found relationship with their local area that’s here to stay beyond the pandemic.
"This major shift to remote and flexible working has led to a desire for spending more cash and more time locally. In other words, flexible working has the opportunity to make local areas thrive beyond expectations. This presents an opportunity for Government to actively support hybrid working, not just because it’s what people want and because of its long-understood potential to narrow the gender pay gap, but also as a key tool for local regeneration."
Image courtesy Warwick Buildings