Zoom: How remote working is driving the digital transformation of Hull
From Truro to Teeside and Burnley to Brighton, businesses, towns, and cities across the UK are embracing a new world of work and implementing more flexible working models.
But it’s Hull that’s really setting the standard. A coalition, including the city council, local business leaders, and the local MP, Emma Hardy, have set about on a mission to bring remote working to the heart of Hull.
Launched in March, ‘Work Hull Work Happy’ strives to tackle the misconception that you need to move away from your home to pursue the job of your dreams. Instead, Work Hull Work Happy is establishing a series of co-working hubs throughout the city, giving people the option to work locally, regardless of where their job is based. And at Zoom we are proud to have partnered with this project.
On top of being one of the most affordable cities in the country, Hull boasts some of the best connectivity in the UK and is undergoing a huge wave of regeneration driven by its recent City of Culture status. If it succeeds in its mission to attract more, better paid remote workers to live in Hull, it will be the city and its local businesses that reap the rewards, creating a virtuous cycle that can continue to drive forward a new wave of regeneration and renewal.
More broadly, research from Hazelwoods shows that three quarters of ‘remote’ jobs pay above the average £31,000 annual salary, meaning that remote working can ‘level up’ the country by widening access to highly paid jobs. Higher salaries ultimately mean more money spent locally, boosting local high streets and strengthening communities.
The example that Hull is setting can be replicated across the country. Zoom’s recent report on the UK’s many competitive advantages when it comes to hybrid working compared to comparable developed nations also found that there are lots of locations across the UK that have experienced significant growth in remote and hybrid job opportunities compared to before the pandemic.
In each of these areas, flexible roles are growing at a far faster pace than the total number of jobs on offer, suggesting that increased flexibility on the part of employers is driving up overall levels of opportunity in each local jobs market - giving local people more career options to choose from, as part of a stronger local labour market more generally. Building on shifts like these, which are already well underway and being driven by the private sector, our report sets out how the UK can take advantage of it and become a world leader in hybrid working.
The UK could look to the Republic of Ireland for inspiration. Zoom worked with the Irish Government to launch a similar co-working initiative: ‘Connected Hubs’, which has seen 200 co-working hubs established across the country. These hubs have been crucial to help extend opportunities throughout Ireland, as workers can now live and work locally.
We should embrace this change, and the benefits hybrid working offers, as part of a place-based approach to digital transformation. Failure to do so risks squandering the competitive advantages explored in our report and falling behind other, more ambitious nations who get that the genie cannot be put back into the proverbial bottle when it comes to hybrid working.
We want to see every worker, business, and community experience these benefits, and it is time to take inspiration from Hull to make sure flexible working is available to everyone.