The shift to working from home brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has left almost 6 million jobs at risk of being shifted overseas, the Tony Blair Institute has warned.

Calling for urgent government intervention, a new report says that around 18 per cent of professional white-collar roles fit the criteria of "anywhere jobs", meaning they can be done remotely and moved offshore.

It says that 1.7 million are based in finance, research and real estate, 1.1 million are in transport and communication, and 800,000 in manufacturing.

While these typically well-paid jobs have historically been harder to shift abroad compared to those in traditional industries, the report says that the "mass experiment" of remote working means that firms may now think differently.

Having successfully set up the digital infrastructure to facilitate remote working, it adds they are likely to "persist with it" in order to "reduce overheads, boost productivity and recruit talent from a wider geography".

"As a result, they may opt to employ only the core staff required for in-person collaboration and decision-making, while outsourcing and offshoring those who are not," it continues.

The findings are likely to alarm Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly pushed back against claims from industry that the crisis has brought about a permanent shift to more remote and flexible ways of working.

However, despite the Prime Minister’s optimism that city centres will bounce back, the Institute warns that 18 per cent of workers want to continue working remotely full-time and 24 per cent of businesses expect to maintain these arrangements.

In order to prevent an exodus, the think tank says that Mr Johnson must build on his levelling up agenda by ensuring that individuals can earn more while living "wherever they want in the UK".

However, this will require the UK to bolster childcare, local transport networks, 5G and gigabit broadband, while also building more suitable housing with adequate workspaces.

It also recommends greater investment in new forms of skills and retraining in order to equip employees with the skills they require to benefit from technological change and to ease the friction of moving between different professions.

In a foreword to the report, Mr Blair says: "This is a vast and profound change in the world of work, with many implications for the jobs themselves and secondary effects on businesses that serve the conventional office.

"On the one hand, there is a risk that employers decide that Anywhere Jobs can be done as easily by those working abroad; on the other hand, if Britain takes the necessary measures of preparation to facilitate such working here, we could attract jobs from abroad. 

"The point is: this is a change that requires government to develop a strategy. It is part of the way working lives are going to change through new technology."