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The great return to office life: how many home movers will long for their pre-pandemic commutes?

·2-min read
Passenger levels are now regularly passing 50 per cent of their pre pandemic levels, reports TfL  (Daniel Lynch)
Passenger levels are now regularly passing 50 per cent of their pre pandemic levels, reports TfL (Daniel Lynch)

The new academic year has arrived and with it, most City bosses hope, the “great return” to office life.

A recent poll found more than half of London office workers expect to spend at least three days a week at their desk from this month, although it’s not yet clear how many will do this in reality - particularly as some of the youngest in the workforce may not yet be fully vaccinated.

Of course vaccine ineligibility, shielding family members and concern about crowded Tubes - now regularly passing 50 per cent of “normal” passenger levels on weekdays according to TfL - are all valid reasons to hesitate.

Juggling childcare admin - and costs - with an office commute takes up valuable headspace in a pandemic. And getting on a “can’t cope with leaves in autumn” train at the moment is understandably beyond some people’s capabilities.

Having gone from a leisurely cycle across London in lockdown to one such train after moving from Zone 2 to Zone 6, I’m faced with the realisation that when the masses return I’ll experience my new, real commute for the first time.

Property transactions numbered just shy of 900,000 across the UK in the year to April, with more than 210,000 of those in London and the South-East, so there will be many in the same boat - although hopefully in a different carriage.

Although I’m expecting the journey to be a mission in the depths of winter, I haven’t experienced leavers’ regret just yet and the novelty of being back in a reopening London on weekdays is showing no signs of wearing off.

All that remains is to wait and see how the transport networks cope, and to convince my employer we should have a daycare for pandemic puppies.

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