The City of London’s financial center has looked like an abandoned town since COVID-19 swept the globe last year. The center expects to see most workers back in their offices after the pandemic, the City’s political leader said on Tuesday.
Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, said in an interview that she was confident trade would return. That would be for establishments and businesses that rely on the usually teeming crowds of office workers such as restaurants, cafes, and the likes.
Though, as with the “new normal”, changes would be expected in the way people work in the post-pandemic world.
McGuinness said, what people are telling them is that they expect their central office base to remain at the core of their business. That is with people coming in three or four days and working different hours. So they are expecting the bulk of the return, she said.
What it will mean in terms of the overall footfall, they are not yet quite clear, she added.
The world’s $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, the biggest center for international banking, is dominated by London. Moreover, it is second to the United States as the largest fintech hub in the world.
Home to the Giants of World Finance
Developers were revving up plans for new buildings in the City, home to the giants of world finance, McGuinness said.
They’re already seeing in their planning applications a real surge of interest in getting office space in the City. She said she thinks they have seen so far this year 80% of all the applications they saw last year.
So, continued interest and continued commitment to that office space, she said. But a different way of using it, McGuinness added.
KPMG accountants published a survey last week showing most major global companies no longer planned to reduce their use of office space after the pandemic. Albeit, few expect business to return to normal this year.
Earlier this month, New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO told thousands of employees that he hopes to have them working in offices again by this summer. They were those who have been mostly working from home since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Nationwide Building Society and Santander UK have downsized their office space.
Nationwide encouraged all its 13,000 office-based staff to work from anywhere in the country. It said last week it would not renew the leases on three of its offices in its hometown of Swindon in the southwest of England.
Santander UK plans to shut four offices in Bootle, Newcastle, London Portman House and Manchester Deansgate. Moreover, it plans to move its headquarters from London to Milton Keynes.