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City of London Faces Battle to Entice its Workers Back

City of London

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70% of City of London-based workers do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and a majority will likely resist going back to a 'normal' way of working in an office environment with normal office hours.

These are the findings of a new major survey that suggest the covid-19 pandemic has potentially permanently altered the City of London in a way that could drastically reshape the City's economy.

Research conducted by Opinium on behalf of Theta Global Advisors also shows 41% of City workers say the COVID pandemic has encouraged them to look towards consultancy and freelance work or start their own business

The findings will come as a blow to City of London authorities who are looking at ways to entice office workers back into 'the Square Mile' by April.

Without its substantial office-based workforce the City could see its bars, restaurants, hospitality venues and other businesses reliant on footfall fail to recover.

William Russell, lord mayor of London, this week announced "a big plan" to "create a buzz" around the City’s "reopening week" in the spring.

It is hoped reopening week will help revive the pubs, restaurants and other venues across the financial district. 

"January and February will be tough. We have to survive those couple of months and hopefully come back with a bang in spring time. I want everyone to buy in on this reopening,” he told the Financial Times, speaking from his office in Mansion House, which he admitted was nearly empty," says Russel.

But even with the rollout of the vaccine, a return to normality still seems a way off, according to Theta Global Advisors.

The findings of the survey comes as the City's latest attempt to recover is undermined by London and its surrounds being moved into the highest tier of covid-19 restrictions, owing to another rise in cases.

"The new restrictions will once again change how the capital operates, with many workers both in the City and the hospitality sector that caters for them being forced back home," says
Chris Biggs, Partner at Theta Global Advisors.

The survey shows 63% of City-based workers believe the workplace of the future will have to change drastically for the better to avoid losing its best talent to freelancing and consulting.

Biggs says the pressure for companies to adapt to the cultural shifts triggered by the pandemic will be immense.

"This period will act as another reminder that the work-life balance of pre-covid employment may not have been ideal and a new working structure may be what thousands of City workers need. With the risks that also come from commuting as well as working in densely populated offices, many may see this year as the catalyst for change," says Biggs.

The survey also reveals 21% of London-based workers say their business will no longer be in a permanent office when they return to full-time work

In addition, 41% of London City workers say the COVID pandemic has encouraged them to look towards consultancy and freelance work or start their own business.

 

Key Findings of the Survey

- 70% of City-based workers do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore

- 57% of people in the Capital do not want to go back to a normal way of working in an office environment with normal office hours

- Over a third - 35% - of people in London say going back to work in a traditional office environment will have a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn will negatively affect their productivity

- Over a fifth - 21% - of London-based workers say their business will no longer be in a permanent office when they return to full-time work

- 41% of London City workers say the COVID pandemic has encouraged them to look towards consultancy and freelance work or start their own business

- 51% of City workers are currently working from home and do not expect to return to the office until at least 2021

- 45% of London City-based workers say the pandemic has made them realise what a poor work-life balance they had pre-lockdown and they will not return to it after COVID

- 63% of City-based workers believe the workplace of the future will have to change drastically for the better to avoid losing its best talent to freelancing and consulting

- 26% of Brits say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other employees post-COVID and will work at home for the majority of the time moving forward

 

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