In the Square Mile, all the pieces matter to City of London prosperity
“Earn the commute.” That was the phrase that a host of City hotshots used in a panel discussion earlier this week. It’s a helpful way of understanding the Square Mile’s rebound from the pandemic, and indeed, how it has changed.
Today, the City will be at its busiest. Thursday is the new Friday, after all, as anybody who walks past Leadenhall Market’s pubs at around 4:30pm today will know.
Firms have, broadly, done their best to amend their ways of working to new expectations. Even bosses who believe firmly that the best ideas come from smart people being sat in the same room as each other have acknowledged the demands of a modern workforce.
Companies, as British Land’s finger-on-the-pulse boss Simon Carter noted this week, are all trying to make their offices more desirable, more sustainable, and more appealing. The City of London Corporation is trying to make the Square Mile a real destination, helping out small businesses who’ve seen trade dry up on quieter days. Claire Spencer, the boss of the Barbican, is trying to ensure that her arts programming is as much a draw back to this marvellous geographical oddity as the workplace. In short – the Square Mile at large has to earn the commute back.
But, but, but. It is the ecosystem that matters most. To borrow a phrase from the crime series The Wire, all the pieces matter. Being in the office and stepping out into empty streets, as Marex’s boss Ian Lowitt put it, “grim” – he was one of the hardy few still here even during lockdown. So were our reporters. It’s true: without the pubs, the sandwich shops, the restaurants, the gyms, the coffee stands this simply isn’t really the Square Mile.
Those businesses are once again under threat not just from lower footfall but higher energy costs and an economic crunch. Reducing the burden on those businesses would go a long way to guaranteeing not just the City’s future, but many other places across the country. Over to you, Chancellor.