The boss of Canary Wharf Group has said he now expects most of the staff who used to work in the Docklands financial centre to return by the end of summer even with the full re-opening of the economy delayed.
Howard Dawber, MD at the development group, said as many as 20,000 office workers were coming into the banking and services hub, but that’s still well down on the pre-pandemic 120,000.
He thinks ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out – will bring more people back to the office by the end of the summer.
The review of social distancing measures was expected to coincide with the now-delayed lifting of lockdown measures from 21 June.
Dawber told the BBC he wanted from the Government “very clear statement” tonight on what the restrictions will be for the next month.
“And then, [we need to know] what the plans are going to be after that. Within that, the review of social distancing rules is pretty much the key thing”.
Despite the delay, Dawber said the Canary Wharf estate can operate within the current social media guidelines of one-metre-plus.
Canary Wharf is home to the major office sites of HSBC, Barclays and JP Morgan.
Dawber echoed the thoughts of Sir George Iacobescu, who told the Sunday Times that working from home was “a fad”.
“We’re moulded by science or God to be together, to work together,” Iacobescu said.
Dawber said working collaboratively in one place is how people work best.
“I think he’s right…particularly as people start to see other colleagues are in the office, having meetings with others and the boss. They’re getting involved with sitting outside at lunchtime having a pleasant drink in the parks or restaurants, people will think ‘Well, actually, I do want to be part of that’, so over time he is right”.
The proportion of the UK workforce working from their office or place of work all the time has risen to 50 per cent, the highest level since October 2020, according to ONS stats out today.