Brits are ready to return to the office because a year of working from home has left many “fatigued”, a top executive at Canary Wharf Group has said.
Howard Dawber, head of strategy at the property giant, said that while working habits may change after the pandemic, people are missing office and city-centre life.
“We’ve got to the point where there is a lot of fatigue out there,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
“Working from home for the first couple of months of last year when the sun was shining and people were enjoying perhaps a more flexible environment, there was a sense that this was going to be a short-term process.
“I think now people are really missing that opportunity to collaborate with and just see their friends in the office, to get your hair cut, to go and get a good coffee at lunchtime, and to do all the life admin things you can do in a city centre.”
Canary Wharf Group is the developer behind roughly 7.5m square feet of office space and almost 1m square feet of retail space.
The number of workers travelling into London’s financial hub has fallen to around just 6,000 people, compared to 100,000 before the outbreak of Covid-19.
Under the government’s plan for ending lockdown, people are still being advised to work from home, with all limits on social contact not set to be lifted until 21 June at the earliest.
High-rise offices in Canary Wharf pose a particular challenge to the return to work, as social distancing measures mean lift capacities are vastly reduced.
Dawber said he expected a gradual return to full occupancy levels in the east London finance centre, with an increase in the number of people who work from home for part of the week.
“I think it is going to be more socially acceptable for people to take the occasional day working from home,” he said.
“So it may well be that people have a desk at Canary Wharf but some people will choose to work at home one day a week or a couple of days a month and that’s a good thing.”