New research reveals the best UK cities for flexible working

  • Near neighbour Sheffield has the lowest flexible working availability in the UK –

Remote working has been the reality for most UK employees for the majority of 2020, with 49% of us now working from home.

One of the unforeseen consequences of Covid-19 has been the amount of people keen to embrace flexible working beyond the current situation. The numbers of people splitting their time between home and the office is expected to double compared to pre-pandemic levels.

But where in the UK is best for flexible working? To find out, Selecta has analysed job listings mentioning flexible working* as part of a wider European study into workplace wellbeing.

UK cities account for 10 of the 121 cities studied. When only scoring the UK cities we see the following:


Manchester is the UK city with the highest proportion of job listings mentioning flexible working, scoring a maximum possible score of 100. It also ranks 9th when all 121 European cities are considered.

The city is home to 1.4 million workers generating £63 billion in added value each year. A large proportion of these work in the digital media and financial services sectors, two areas that don’t usually require you to be tied to a desk. And it’s not just the private sector embracing the shift towards flexible working. Manchester City Council is working towards Timewise Accreditation, helping to widen access to flexible working for its employees.

In second place is Bristol, scoring 94.64 out of 100. The city is a hub for innovation, with applications recently opening for the world’s largest pre-seed start-up accelerator–the first UK programme outside of London. Bristol is also in the top 20 cities worldwide for tech investment. As start-ups are a particularly strong match for flexible working, this ranking is perhaps unsurprising.

Leeds comes in third, scoring 61.62 out of 100 for the proportion of job listings mentioning flexible working. Leeds has proved attractive for so-called “North-shoring”, where companies (one recent example being Channel 4) move their offices outside of London. With flexible season tickets now available on Northern and LNER trains too, Leeds is clearly a good destination for flexible working careers.

Edinburgh (35.34/100) and Glasgow (23.03) complete the top five cities for flexible working. Demand for working flexibly is certainly present in Scotland, with more than a third of unemployed people looking for part time or flexible vacancies. But supply still has some way to go before these cities can compete with the current top three.

Sheffield is the city with the lowest proportion of job listings mentioning flexible working. The Steel City’s most popular industry is now retail, with 119,00 jobs in this sector. Retail staff were the most likely to be furloughed during lockdown, with over 1.6 million put on the scheme. This highlights the fact that retail staff can’t usually work from home and so are among the workers least likely to be flexible.

The full rankings for the worker wellbeing index can be found at the dedicated webpage here:

Author: Editorial Team

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