New ‘Toolkit’ to Rejuvenate Rural Pubs Will Give Home Workers a Different Kind of Office

14 March 2023

Research that will produce a ‘toolkit’ to help rural pub owners diversify their income through the provision of co-working spaces has begun, thanks to funding from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE).

Research that will produce a ‘toolkit’ to help rural pub owners diversify their income through the provision of co-working spaces has begun, thanks to funding from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE).

Once the beating heart of rural communities, the UK’s pub economy has been in decline for more than a decade – intensified by the global pandemic.

Now, a team of researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, and Northumbria University will look at ways for rural pub owners to utilise post-pandemic ways of working, assessing the validity of co-working spaces in pubs as a new business model for income diversification.

The team will produce a report outlining the potential for rural pubs to offer a place for home workers looking to adopt a suitable working space outside of the traditional office and, in turn, identify opportunities to support the maintenance, growth and resilience of rural pubs nationwide. They will work closely with local communities throughout the UK to gather information from landlords, co-workers and representatives from wider local communities.

Jane Deville, Research Fellow at the University of Lincoln, said: “We know that village pubs are a vital part of rural life and the Covid 19 pandemic led to many shutting down. At the same time, there are now many more people working remotely from home who need suitable spaces to work alongside others.

“Our research will explore whether there’s a business opportunity for rural pubs to innovate and offer co-working spaces as part of their service. Ultimately, we hope we can develop a pub ‘toolkit’ for rural pub owners, offering advice on setting up co-working spaces to help them diversify their income and ensure they are more resilient.

Speaking about the prospective toolkit Director of NICRE, Professor Jeremy Phillipson, said: “The rural economy is in a state of flux as it grapples changes in working practices accelerated by the pandemic and the stark challenges of the cost-of-doing-nothing crisis.

“These projects will shed important light on how these contemporary issues are affecting rural enterprise, giving valuable insights that will help inform future policymaking and support for rural businesses.”

The toolkit will be available to rural pub owners, free of charge, in the summer of 2023.