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Goldman, PwC and KPMG lead City’s return to the office after Plan B scrapped

·2-min read
Commuters on London Bridge (PA Wire)
Commuters on London Bridge (PA Wire)

Inner London businesses are set for “bounce back” Monday next week as thousands of city workers return to the office.

Banks, accountants and other professional services companies with major presences in the city have all told staff to return to the office next week after the government said on Wednesday that work from home guidance introduced in December would be scrapped.

Goldman Sachs, Citi, PwC, HSBC, KPMG, Fidelity and Standard Chartered are among the major employers to have encouraged staff back to the office in recent days. Barclays and Lloyds have told staff they are free to return if they wish.

Most companies are asking staff to start coming in from next week. The firms collectively employ tens of thousands of workers.

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, said: “After the last lockdown restrictions were lifted, it took us two months to get back to 80% capacity.

“We’re expecting a faster bounce back now - people know the drill - and this is great news for small businesses and city centres that rely on office workers.”

Shobi Khan, CEO of Canary Wharf Group, said he was expecting visits to his estate to increase “substantially” next week.

David Livingstone, Citi’s European CEO, and James Bardrick, the bank’s UK CCO, said in a joint memo that a return to office would help “generate the energy and collaborative spirit on which Citi thrives.”

Most staff are not being asked to return full time: Citi has asked its employees to spend at least three days a week in the office, while KPMG is mandating two. However, even a partial return to normality is likely to provide a big boost to London’s economy.

Officials are hopeful that a quick bounce back will provide a welcome boost to inner city businesses that rely on office workers for trade. City Pub Group boss Clive Watson told the Standard this week that the return of commuters was “vital” for hospitality businesses.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair of the City of London Corporation, said this week: “Many businesses in the Square Mile have been seriously affected by the recent drop in footfall. The green shoots of recovery can now thrive again.”

Footfall in the Square Mile was running at 70% of pre-pandemic levels before Plan B restrictions were introduced before Christmas, according to the City of London Corporation. It dropped after workers were told to stay at home.

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