Wednesday 9 June 2021 12:01 am

These market towns saw the biggest surge of remote workers and Covid refugees

Daily news reporter in City A.M.'s London newsroom

Market towns across the UK have become centres of the hybrid working revolution, according to an analysis of broadband usage and network data during the pandemic.

As 40 per cent of office workers have moved or considered moving, many have flocked to smaller towns despite the potential of longer commutes.

Workers instead prioritised larger homes, more green space and proximity to family.

The top towns identified by the TalkTalk research were Kingston (52 per cent), Guildford (50 per cent), Enfield (50 per cent) and Dudley (49 per cent).

Next on the list of market towns which had seen the biggest surge in data use since work-from-home orders began include Bromley (48 per cent), Reigate & Redhill (48 per cent), Chelmsford (48 per cent) and Dorchester (45 per cent).

The South East and East of England saw the largest changes overall, with an increased internet usage of 46 per cent a daily commutes came to a halt and people left the city to greener pastures. 

There are also indications that these changes are here to stay, as 85 per cent of business leaders expected some form of hybrid working to continue after the pandemic and 86 per cent of office workers said a flexible working policy would be key to accepting a new job in the future.

The change in people’s work patterns during the pandemic has accelerated a transformation that is as revolutionary as the development of agriculture several millennia ago, an expert has said.

James Suzman, an anthropologist who wrote a book on the history of work, said the spread of digital technology had transformed the workplace in a way comparable to the industrial revolution.

The TalkTalk survey asked 2,500 employees and 500 businesses leaders on their expectations on the return to the workplace. Both groups agreed they expect to be in the office for between two and three days a week.