It was Canary Wharf's head of strategy, Howard Dawber, who was among the first to stick their head above the parapet and forecast a return to office life. While the work-from-home movement will leave a profound impact on the 9-5 (more on that later), one of London’s most influential business figures suggests workers will trickle back to their central offices over the coming months.
Dawber predicts numbers will increase from 29th March, with a further uptake in June when bars and restaurants can reopen fully. He also feels 100% occupancy will return at some point in the future. On the matter of ‘full occupancy’, Dawber concedes that some workers will retain a degree of flexibility regarding working-from-home but they’ll keep a desk in Canary Wharf – perhaps with a handful of home working days in a given month.
KPMG UK, JP Morgan, NatWest Group and HSBC are just four names that have openly pledged support for a ‘hybrid’ way of working in the near future, with time split between the home and a corporate office. Adding to the picture is the Prime Minister who, in February 2021, dismissed the idea that working from home would be a permanent shift, with assurances that people are keen to work in a face-to-face capacity again.
What may come as a surprise as we aim to leave lockdown behind is the demand for office space from the international business community - especially as many thought Brexit would kill off any interest. In fact, a Freedom of Information request by financial consultancy Bovill found approximately 1,500 money managers, payment firms and insurers have applied for permission to continue operating in the UK after Brexit, with 1,000 of those opening offices in the UK for the first time.
If you’re planning for employees to return to the office in the near future, or are moving to a new premise, use this time of under-occupancy to refit your space so it’s fit for a flexible workforce. Contact MPL Interiors for design advice and ideas.