Re: Surely ...
Most 'work' done these days is office type roles, done on a computer, so doesn't need to be done in any specific location.
So unless you are in a hands-on manufacturing job, or need to be face to face with customers/clients (retail, hospitals etc.), then there should be no reason why the vast majority of workers these days (likely 70%+) couldn't simply work from home, or at least somewhere closer.
This is nothing to do with 'cottage industries', most major corporations, at least the forward thinking ones, now encourage working from home, as it reduces their overheads, and makes for a happier, and therefore more productive workforce. It's a win-win for them.
Plus the more people that there are working from home, the less commuters there are on the road, and so makes the commute easier for those that do need to go into the office/factory/hospital etc. So again a win-win, at least for the commuters themselves.
Personally, if I was looking for a new job, I wouldn't even consider working for someone who doesn't have flexible working practices.