The working from home revolution that began at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on the regional economy of Coventry and Warwickshire, according to a regional business leader.
Research by St. Andrews University, which has been supported by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s head of policy, Sean Rose, highlights statistics from the ONS’s Census 2021 on the proportion of people working from home.
Nationally, around one third of people were working from home at the time of the census and the areas with the biggest proportion were in London. Research shows, however, that Warwick District was in the top ten per cent – with 44.7 per cent of workers basing themselves at home.
In some areas of Leamington, that rose to more than 50 per cent.
Across the city and the county, there were major differences between individual areas and individual wards.
In parts of Coventry, such as Radford East and Holbrooks, the proportion of people working from home was below 20 per cent, yet in Earlsdon and Canley gardens it hit 49 per cent.
Rugby Borough, too, saw some areas under the 20 per cent mark yet Dunton, Stretton-on-Dunsmore and Marton was at 43.6 per cent.
In the north of the county, the proportion of people working from home was relatively low, with many areas of the Nuneaton & Bedworth area below 20 per cent. In areas such as New Arley & Fillongley, a third of workers were based at home.
In the south of Warwickshire, the numbers were much higher with several areas of Stratford and the surrounding district above the 40 per cent mark.
Dr David McCollum, at the University of St. Andrews, noted: “Nearly all of the top areas for working from home were in London and its hinterland. However, Warwick is an interesting exception to this pattern. Here 44.7% of workers worked from home, easily placing it within the top 10 per cent of local authorities within England and Wales for remote working.
“Hosting such an abundance of remote workers can bring tangible benefits to Warwick.
“Remote workers tend to be highly qualified and concentrated in thriving and well-paid sectors. Attracting and retaining these kinds of professionals can boost the demographic balance and socio-economic profile of areas and stimulate economic regional growth.
“More people spending more of their time in their local area can also have positive impacts on the vibrancy and cohesion of local places.”
Sean Rose, head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “While the data has been taken from a Census in March 2021, there is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed working patterns forever and it is interesting to see which parts of the region have been affected most.
“At the time, there were still some Covid restrictions in place so the numbers might be skewed slightly but there is absolutely no doubt that for many businesses and many individuals that working from home is here to stay.
“There’s also a wider impact on the economy. It has seen the creation of new co-working spaces and more ‘café’ workers and while it has brought new challenges for businesses, it also presents new opportunities too.
“It is something that we continue to speak to members about because there is a balance to ensuring that the new way of working benefits both the individual and the business and that is why we are seeing so many hybrid models introduced by companies.
“And, with recruitment proving to be so difficult for firms, it’s no wonder that those businesses that can offer that kind of model are doing so.
“Covid-19 certainly changed the way so many of us worked at the height of the pandemic and it’s clearly going to have a lasting impact.”