The return to the office has already begun
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a definite buzz around the Landsec office – more people are starting to return, and teams are enjoying being back together again. After a long 18 months of Zoom meetings and Teams chats it’s been wonderful to see colleagues catching up over a coffee.
I know for local businesses this is a welcome and much needed relief too. It’s been clear for a while now that London’s recovery will depend on workers returning to the capital’s hubs and that many restaurants and bars, without meaningful tourist numbers, are desperate for the after-work crowd to return.
The good news is that our latest research shows this scene is playing out across the capital. Our polling of over one thousand London based office workers found that over 70% of them have already started to spend at least one day in the office, with over a third already back to pre-Covid working routines.
That number is only set to rise. 80% of London office workers said they will feel comfortable returning to the office by the end of September, with the figure rising to 85% by the end of the year. We know that seeing a return to the office will be vital if London is to recover from the impact of the pandemic so it’s encouraging that the vast majority of people are making plans to come back. For the hairdressers, gyms, key cutters and taxis who rely so heavily on office workers, I’m sure that these figures will be incredibly reassuring.
That’s not to say that everything will go back to how it was after the summer, hybrid working has many clear benefits and office spaces will need to adapt to reflect this. However, for many of us the past year and a half has highlighted that the office remains the best place for collaboration and that the social and cultural aspects of office life are difficult to recreate remotely.
Our research found that one-in-four London office workers have missed access to social, food and drink, or retail spaces as a result of home working, while as many as 80% feel they have missed out on building stronger relationships through not coming into the office. It makes sense then that of the one thousand people we surveyed, only 10% said that they would choose to work from home full-time.
In some ways these figures aren’t surprising, but it is encouraging to see that an increasing number of London workers are actively looking forward to returning in the coming weeks. Our workplaces are the lifeblood of the economy, so getting people back into central London will be key to unlocking the city’s recovery. Now with the easing of restrictions, and a clear appetite amongst workers to return, the capital is on course to become a vibrant hub of activity again.