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Landlords left waiting for ‘back to office’ strategy in Covid-19 winter plan

Joanna Bourke
·2-min read
<p>Numerous people have worked away from the office since March 2020</p> (PA)

Numerous people have worked away from the office since March 2020

(PA)

Landlords have been left disappointed about the lack of a return to offices proposal in the government’s Covid-19 winter plan, as numerous central London headquarters remain severely under occupied.

Guidance set out yesterday “encourages employers to enable a greater degree of home working”, and the government wants people to work from home where they can.

Office owners and companies have had scores of workers doing their jobs remotely since March, when the first lockdown started.

Brian Bickell at Shaftesbury, which has a portfolio of offices, shops and restaurants in the West End, told the Standard: “It’s disappointing there is no clear signal about when we can start to prepare for a return to working from the office-many jobs and businesses depend on the footfall and spending it will bring.”

Alistair Elliott, group chairman of property agency giant Knight Frank, told the Standard: “It goes without saying that we will continue to focus on the wellbeing of our people and our clients, adhering to government guidance accordingly, and it is clearly good news that the government is confident to start releasing the lockdown.

However, it is disappointing that there isn’t a stronger message about returning to work since, to my mind, the economic vibrancy of our cities all around the country is dependent upon people returning to their workplaces.”

Elliott added: “To therefore begin opening shops, food and beverage and gyms is a great step but it will be challenging for those businesses if people are not returning to our towns and cities to work in order to provide the much needed custom.”

City of London Corporation’s policy chair Catherine McGuinness said there is an urgent need for a clear plan to allow office workers to return to Covid-secure workplaces “in order to get as much of the economy operating as possible”.

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