London's remote working success set to widen inequality long after lockdown

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3 min read
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Londoners are significantly more likely than their counterparts outside the capital to work in jobs like tech, finance, law and marketing - roles that make it easier to work remotely. Photo: Getty

Urban inequality is set to widen long after lockdown restrictions are eased thanks to remote working success in London compared to elsewhere in the country.

That is according to new findings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the world’s largest job site Indeed, which found that the remote-friendly professional sector could harm lower paid service industries.

Analysis of job postings on Indeed revealed that the share of jobs with remote working is 2.6 percentage points higher in London than the average around the UK. The company analysed job postings on its platform in the UK, Spain, France and Germany to assess how the number of job postings had changed since the pandemic.

A rise in high paying professional job opportunities in the capital came at the expense of lower paid service based ones, which rely on face-to-face contact with customers and have been decimated by coronavirus.

Londoners are significantly more likely than their counterparts outside the capital to work in jobs like tech, finance, law and marketing - roles that make it easier to work remotely.

READ MORE: Why we should be allowed to request remote working from day one

The data also showed that London recorded uninterrupted growth in remote working jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, even when these jobs declined elsewhere in Britain.

This trend was also recorded across Europe’s largest capital cities – Berlin, Madrid and Paris. At the lowest point, job postings in London were down 57% on pre-pandemic levels, compared to 48% in Madrid, 42% in Paris and 26% in Berlin.

Job postings in London were down 57% on pre-pandemic levels, compared to 48% in Madrid, 42% in Paris and 26% in Berlin. Chart: OEDC, Indeed
Job postings in London were down 57% on pre-pandemic levels, compared to 48% in Madrid, 42% in Paris and 26% in Berlin. Chart: OEDC, Indeed

The OECD and Indeed said that rising remote working may persist longer in capital cities across Europe than elsewhere, creating an urgent need for local policies to help the urban workforce navigate change.

Those that work in the service sector, such as hospitality and tourism, will be even more reliant on office workers’ custom and footfall when the economy reopens due to continued uncertainty about when overseas tourists will be encouraged to visit the UK.

READ MORE: Best countries for remote working in 2021

Lukas Kleine-Rueschkamp, Economist at the OECD, said: “The economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic risks pulling apart urban labour markets, as some jobs and sectors have been relatively well protected during the crisis while others have experienced great difficulty in operating and maintaining their business model.”

He added: “To manage the transition to the post-pandemic world, policy makers need to take actions that support workers at the greatest risk of redundancy or already on short-time work schemes by helping them develop skills aligned to the new demands of their local economy.”

“To mitigate the impact of the labour market adjustment period in major cities, local career guidance should be closely linked to adult learning programmes. Measures should also strengthen the ability of local economies to ‘rewire’ by making it easier for workers to shift industries.”

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