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Universal UK Broadband Plans Could Trigger Employee Exodus

Posted: 26th Aug, 2009 By: MarkJ
The latest 'Connected Britain’ report from Orange UK, which is based on YouGov research and insights from futurologist James Bellini, has hinted that the 100% availability of reliable and fast universal UK broadband access could fundamentally change the way our country works.

The South West of England could see a population increase of more than 150% by 2015 as universal access - as outlined in the Government’s Digital Britain report (original news - minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps for everybody by 2012) - allows more people the flexibility to live and work in a place of their choosing.

Robert Ainger, Director of Corporate Marketing at Orange UK, said:

“Much like the industrial revolution, the digital revolution we are currently going through will forever change the way we all lead our lives. Not just from a social perspective, but the way we work and the places we can work from.

The long-entrenched domination of the South East in Britain’s economic structure could at last be coming to a close, with many workers wanted to trade their city lives to work from more rural and idyllic parts of the country. Our report reveals that a digitally connected country could change the face of Britain as we know it.”

London would retain its place as a top location with a 40% increase predicted, while Scotland could see a population jump of more than 50% as workers head North. Some areas of the country, including the East and West Midlands and parts of the North, will become less congested as many workers from those regions opt instead for the coasts or mountains.

remote working exodus uk

The report, which included a survey of 3,281 office workers from the UK, also revealed that business could save up to £31.7 billion by giving employees the ability to work more flexibly. In addition, 16% of respondents would be happy to take a pay cut (on average £6,900) to move into their ideal location and 42% would be willing to give up perks such as a company car or private health insurance (33%).

Futurologist James Bellini said:

“Universal connectivity is already having a huge impact on our lives. Our research shows that already 39% of people are able to work some or all of the time from a location of their choice and employees are increasingly realising that they can be just as productive working from home or on the move.

As connectivity across Britain increases, so too will mobile working, making the traditional office almost obsolete. In fact, by 2020, a successful and forward-looking business will have no HQ, probably no CEO and only a fraction of the fixed assets it has today.”

It's an interesting theory but the reality for most people is that we cannot pick and choose our ideal location, the world simply isn't that strait forward and many complex issues (house price variations, family etc.) would get in the way. Many employers would also quite rightly like to "see" their staff in the office once in awhile.

Then there is of course that ever present question mark over whether or not the Digital Britain report can actually deliver a fast and reliable universal broadband solution by 2012, let alone even 2015. Satellite won’t do it and Mobile Broadband still has capacity problems to worry about. It doesn’t help that the ‘Next Generation Fund’ (tax on all fixed phones lines to help fund future broadband services) now looks to be in doubt too.
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