Returning to the workplace
The Lord Mayor discusses the effects of returning to the workplace on the City of London.
For Brits of all ages, the start of September symbolises the return to routine. For the City, that means the return to work. And this year should be no different.
Since the start of September, it has been a joy to see the City streets full of their former hustle and bustle as commuters hurriedly collect their coffees and converse with colleagues. After months of working from home, employees have been returning to the City in their thousands with employers reopening offices to welcome back workers. These workers have brought with them a new-found hope for the City - hope of post-pandemic normality and stability which many of us have craved.
Their return is especially crucial for the wider City ecosystem – including its many shops, bars and restaurants – which are benefitting from the increased footfall after several difficult months of trading.
Employers have dedicated a lot of resources to deliver COVID-secure workplaces and restore confidence among their staff, while space has been made along the City streets to improve transport for cyclists and pedestrians, encouraging social distancing. Such efforts have clearly paid off as the capital’s Tube network recorded its busiest rush hour morning since March 2020 at the start of the month in a welcome sign of increased confidence and momentum.
While I am delighted by this return to the workplace, we should not act like the past year and a half never happened. The virus has not gone away, and I encourage anyone entering the City to act responsibly – this includes getting the vaccine as soon as possible and of course, practicing safe social distancing. Having said that, we must learn to live with the virus and that means benefiting from the social environment only the office can offer.
Of course, we recognise that new flexible ways of working are here to stay and firms have told us that they do not expect a return to the same patterns following the pandemic. While there are clear benefits to working from home, for many businesses and workers, central office hubs still have a crucial role to play – whether it be for staff development, team morale, collaboration and creativity, networking opportunities or much more.
As we welcome workers back into the office, the City will also be enhancing its cultural offer with the renewal of the Barbican centre. Culture, hospitality and entertainment are just some of life’s pleasures that you can’t enjoy when working from home. I therefore greatly encourage all workers to make a welcome return to the City and make the most of all the Square Mile has to offer.