Sunday 30 August 2020 9:54 am

BP to sell London headquarters as work patterns shift

BP is reportedly planning to sell its headquarters in central London, becoming the latest employer to signal a permanent shift in its working patterns.

The oil giant employs 6,500 staff across its offices in the capital and in Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey. It plans to rent back the building from the new owner for up to two years before leaving permanently, according to the Sunday Times.

The outbreak of coronavirus has triggered a permanent shift in the way companies approach working patterns. BP chief Bernard Looney has said the FTSE 100 company will move to a more “hybrid work style”, balancing home and office working.

A sale of BP’s headquarters, which is expected to be priced at more than £300m, will indicate how attractive prime London office space is. The pandemic has cast further uncertainty over an already struggling property market, battling retail tenants’ shift to online.

The government is set to launch a major media campaign encouraging Britons to get back to office working as analysis reveals UK workers are more reluctant to return to the office.

Schroders, KPMG and Twitter are among the biggest firms to say employees can work from home, all or part of the week, permanently.

Linklaters also signalled a shift in its approach last week, allowing its staff to work from home half the time.

Firms are also looking for ways to cut costs as they struggle with a drop in footfall. Pret A Manger, which last week announced up to 3,000 job cuts, is planing to sell the lease on its base in Victoria.

John Lewis has left its headquarters at Partnership House and move staff to its other office in the capital.

BP will reportedly take a smaller headquarters when it leaves St James’. It has sold and leased back on a long term basis its offices in Houston, Texas and Sunbury. “This was a trend that started before Covid but has been accelerated by Covid,” a source told the Sunday Times.

BP did not respond to a request for comment.