: Office and flexible workspace attendance in February grew by 19% year-on-year, driven in large part by increased visits to suburban and rural locations as workers choose to split their time between local workspaces and city centre HQs.
The latest footfall data from IWG*, the world’s largest flexible workspace provider, from its 300+ UK locations revealed increases in attendance across all five days of the week, although Tuesday-Thursday remain the most popular days to work from an office.
Centres in suburban, town and rural locations have seen some of the largest increases in attendance, with workers increasingly forgoing lengthy commutes to work locally. The likes of Henley (+100%) Northampton (+97%), Redhill (+83%), Bolton (+66%), and Oxford (+54%) saw sizable growth in attendance.
As local working becomes more engrained, research by IWG has found widespread support for 15-minute cities, an urban planning concept in which most daily necessities and services, such as work, shopping, education, healthcare, and leisure can be easily reached by a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
Polling among more than 2,000 UK consumers by IWG, whose brands include Regus and Spaces, found that fewer than one in four (24%) said they wouldn’t want to live in a 15-minute city. Almost two thirds (64%) said that 15-minute cities will bring economic benefits, while 65% expect them to reduce traffic and pollution in their community.
Half (50%) said it’ll enable consumers to better support local businesses, which tallies with an economic impact assessment undertaken by IWG and Arup which found that hybrid working could add £327 million a year to rural and suburban economies.
Workers also highlighted improved personal finances and work/life balance as key advantages of living in a 15-minute city. Almost two thirds (65%) said living in one would save them money, while more than half (52%) would see their commute to work reduced. Overall, 63% said they’d like their local council to explore the 15-minute city concept.
Analysis by IWG, highlights the extent of the savings that working locally can offer hybrid workers. Someone based in Cambridge – which has seen a huge increase in local working over the past year – could save up to £2,931*** a year by working from Cambridge-based workspace instead of a London HQ just one day a week, with this figure increasing to £8,793 by working locally three days a week.
IWG’s global footprint is expanding to meet this demand for local working. It plans to add around 1,000 new locations globally over the next year, the vast majority of which will be in rural and suburban areas. In the UK, smaller towns with populations between 10,000 and 30,000 such as Chippenham, Taunton, Redhill and Evesham are among those with new and recent coworking centres, allowing workers to cut lengthy commutes and work closer to home.
IWG Founder and CEO Mark Dixon commented: “The inconvenience and high cost of a long daily commute is the single biggest driving factor behind the growth of hybrid working. Now, employees are leading more localised lives, living, and working closer to home, making them happier and more productive, as well as saving thousands of pounds annually.
“So the support for the 15-minute city should come as no surprise. They have the potential to transform the way we live, bringing clear environmental benefits while invigorating local economies and enriching communities.
“In line with this latest data, we expect to see demand for hybrid working solutions continue to accelerate as businesses and their people commit to a more flexible way of working for the long-term.”
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