Where has the talent of the City gone?
After the first full week of work in 2021 and nearly a week into the third national lockdown England has experienced, it is clear that hopes of a return to normality in 2021 are still a long way away. One area that has been impacted especially dramatically by this is the City of London, whose normally bustling streets and office blocks have become little more than a moment to capitalism.
The City has previously suggested that it will host a “Back to Work” week in April to encourage a return to the Square Mile, not only to fill offices but to help the struggling businesses that normally cater to the people who usually fill them. There is, however, a feeling that things will never return to how they were before. Eight in ten firms are expected to adopt a hybrid working culture while only 10% will be “office first” according to a survey.
But what will this mean for the City moving forward? As restrictions extend now, potentially, into the spring Future Strategy Club explores what this dramatic shift will mean for both workers and the areas they live in.
Justin Small, Founder of FSC:
“The City of London has long been the poster boy for everything that is seemingly wrong with office working. Long hours, presenteeism and strict policy meant that working from home was often unrealistic. This, and sky high property prices, has meant that over 50 times more people work in the Square Mile than live there. It also meant that businesses serving these commuting workers flourished, something that the City is desperately trying to save.
“This shift away from the City means that the talented individuals normally making a commute are now staying in their local area, potentially to the benefit of that area and the businesses that trade there. When lockdown ends it’s unlikely that everyone will rush back to the City, but they will rush to coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. These won’t be in the Square Mile but local to where many are working from home.
“This could give high streets and the wider areas of Greater London a chance to boom as highly skilled individuals stay local, rather than taking their talents, and disposable income, into the city centre. An office outside of Zone 1 is something we are looking at and we will hope to involve the community in this; I really see this as a trend that will take off in 2021.
“We’ve put together a post-Covid survival handbook earlier this year and the advice contained within it is more relevant than ever for workers and businesses adapting to home working. A highly skilled CRO or transformation expert could be the difference between making a transition like this work or not, but you no longer have to pay through the nose to get this help.”