Return of office staff at new high in London after Covid

London offices are fuller than at any time since the start of the pandemic as the return to commuting gathers pace, data has revealed.


Office occupancy reached 42 per cent last Thursday, exceeding the previous highwater mark of 40.1 per cent recorded on October 14 last year when London was still opening up after the third lockdown. Average occupancy was about 63 per cent before the first work-from-home order was issued by Boris Johnson in March 2020, but immediately fell to close to below 10 per cent.


Commuters have only slowly gone back to their pre-pandemic habits and working from home still remains the favoured option for the majority on Mondays and Fridays.


According to the Freespace Index, a measure compiled by workplace sensors company Freespace, occupancy last week was 25 per cent on Monday, 40 per cent Tuesday, 36 per cent Wednesday before the 42 per cent peak on Thursday.


However, on Friday it plummeted to just 13 per cent. Across the week as a whole it averages 31 per cent in London, still roughly half pre-pandemic levels.


Freespace boss Raj Krishnamurthy said: “It seems there’s plenty of life in the office yet. We are heading in a positive direction with occupancy, but this has now become more purposeful in terms of how people want to work, what spaces they are using, and what the overall purpose of the office is.”


Separate data from sandwich chain Pret a Manger also showed that sales in its central London outlets were fast returning to pre-pandemic levels. Last week they were slightly ahead of the January 2020 benchmark while in the City they were at 88 per cent of “normal”.


Meanwhile a poll by the City of London Corporation found that 72 per cent of full-time workers feel that building business relationships is easier when based in the office.


Evening Standard (Jonathan Prynn) -

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash

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