EMPLOYERS in Southampton are among the least prepared for flexible working in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, a survey has suggested.

The research analysed thousands of job descriptions, employee reviews and forums to identify areas leading the way for flexible and remote working.

It found Southampton was almost all of the UK’s 20 biggest cities when it came to allowing staff to choose their working hours. Southampton was at the bottom of the scoring for flexible working, alongside Newcastle.

The issue has been moved up the agenda by proposals to stagger working hours following the lockdown.

Southampton performed only slightly better for remote working, coming out ahead of Aberdeen, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bath, Glasgow and Coventry but behind most big cities.

When scores for both remote and flexible working were combined, Southampton was 16th among the 20 cities, with Cambridge, Nottingham and Edinburgh leading the UK.

Matthew Jenkins, chief executive at global workforce management solutions firm Mitrefinch, which conducted the research, said: “It’s no secret that the past couple of months have been some of the most challenging for UK businesses in recent years, and with some elements of restrictions likely due to remain in place upon lifting the full lockdown, there looks to be significant challenges in the months and years to come.

“The challenges obviously vary depending on the line of work of each operating business, but it’s interesting to see the regional variance across the UK, which indicates some towns and cities have some work to do to address this balance in the coming months.

“Businesses are going to have to become more agile and flexible than ever before in order to achieve growth during this pivotal period, as well as ensuring staff remain healthy, both physically and mentally.

“However as we have seen over the past few weeks, many have been able to use technology to be as productive as they were pre-coronavirus.

“The rise of remote and flexible working was already prominent prior to this pandemic but Covid-19 has forced staff to really consider if they really need to be in an office to get their job done – and businesses to consider the potential cost savings of moving to smaller physical offices and a movement towards more virtual ways of working.”