Hybrid and remote working: a balanced approach

The move to more remote and hybrid working has had a positive impact on smaller towns as well as a negative one on major metropolises. We need to take a balanced approach.

Shoppers walking along a busy high street


Technology allows for some fascinating data collection these days. A study last week looked at mobile phone activity on more than 500 high streets from before until after the Covid period and found that there had been an increase, sometimes a marked increase, in activity in smaller towns and a decrease in the main urban centres. One of the companies involved, PLACEMAKE.IO, has also done a  detailed study focused on London and based on card taps on the London transport system. It found that, although trips were mainly down across the board, they were higher in midweek than on Mondays and Fridays, highlighting the ongoing impact of hybrid working.

There has been a lot of discussion about the negative impact of hybrid and remote working on urban centres – and the suddenness of the change was troubling – but not so much on the positive impact on smaller towns and cities. A 2021 PwC report, for instance,  highlighted areas that could benefit from a shift to working from home, including outer London and smaller cities like Wigan, Bradford and Blackpool, although it cautioned that it was early days to make predictions.

Even now, over a year later, everything is still up in the air and the long-term impact of Covid is still to be seen. But it is clear that Covid has accelerated trends that already existed for many reasons, including concerns about the cost and environmental impact of commuting and the time lost to it.

There have been studies in the past of the gender commuting gap – the gap which emerges when men continue to commute into higher paying jobs after having children while women often take a step back to work more locally – or from home – usually at a lower pay rate in order to be around for children’s sickness or other emergencies. It doesn’t, of course, have to be like that and the gap depends on many factors. Indeed there are more stay-at-home dads these days, but it is still the case that women are more likely to turn their career around to fit around their children. Remote and hybrid working gives parents more choice in how they do this and allows them to share the being near to home for pick-ups. drop-offs, emergencies, school duties and more.

But outside of the personal benefits, the data research shows that the metropolis/town shift in activity can be more broadly positive as well as negative even if the negative reports generally gain more traction in the news. The important thing is to focus on alleviating the negatives and accentuating the positives. Where employers, for instance, find challenges when it comes to remote or hybrid working rather than revert back to the status quo – which has its own drawbacks – the intelligent thing is to surely look at how to make things work better.

The direction of travel is towards greater flexibility. The important thing is to look to best practice in its implementation and to keep open to learning what works best in different situations. Flexible working isn’t always a benefit to employees. It can be exploited in any manner of ways, but when it works both for employees and employers it can be transformational.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises