The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to change the way we work permanently, with many workers continuing to work from home during part of the week. KPMG’s research provides an insight on how these new working patterns could transform the landscape of the UK economy, including the impact on employment, productivity, and local demand.
An important consequence of increased working from home is the need for less office space. Increased availability of office space in the larger business hubs could see businesses that were previously outside of central business areas consider moving there. This will allow them to access a larger pool of workers, suppliers and clients, as well as to benefit from better access to knowledge sharing. At the same time, residential towns and neighbourhoods are expected to reap the benefits of greater homeworking through increased demand for local services.
The pandemic caused enormous damage to the UK economy and people, but it also drew attention to their resilience, as businesses and workers adapted to the new conditions and accepted temporary limits on personal and economic freedoms. Almost overnight, remote working became widespread for sectors and occupations where it was possible. For some, remote working ended the daily ritual of a commute and showed a new perspective on work-life balance. For others, remote working brought isolation and difficulties.
As we emerge from this extraordinary period, businesses need to adapt to the new business environment that they will be facing. Some changes taking place during the pandemic are likely to become the new norm, ushering further changes in the UK business landscape. As the UK economy recovers from the pandemic and the success of the vaccination program sees a return to normal, it is becoming clear that home-working is likely to remain in some form. This report offers a potential scenario for what these changes might bring, and the consequences for the shape and structure of the UK’s economic geography.
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