In this episode Christian is joined by Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General, a City institution with more than £1 trillion of assets under management. Nigel talks about L&G’s long-term view and how its investments could shape our recovery and future economic growth, but he also reflects on the immense change that the pandemic has brought to his company, the City and all urban centres. He remains optimistic about London’s future, but says getting people back into offices will be key — even if it’s just for two or three days a week. He says “our culture will erode” without the collaboration and creativity that comes from having people work together, and our city centres will suffer without at least a modest return of the office.
Also in this episode, Christian talks about City A.M.‘s new ‘back to the office’ campaign, which seeks to contribute to a debate about the merits and wisdom of working from home at a time when our business districts are suffering from a catastrophic decline in footfall. The effects of the pandemic have meant that even as London’s outer zones return to economic vitality, central London remains eerily quiet as commuters shun public transport and employers struggle to bring people back into offices. Without a doubt, the pandemic will change the way a lot of us work — almost entirely for the better. More flexibility and greater personal autonomy will be welcome changes for a lot of people. But the sudden and near total disappearance of people from our city centres is having a devastating effect on local economies and, over time, our social fabric.
City A.M. believes that employers must start to implement innovative, risk-assessed ways of bringing more people back into central London and Canary Wharf. People can work one, two or three days at the office without overloading the transport system and without giving up their newly forged relationship with work. Business groups, City leaders and the mayor of London have all backed our call to save central London, and this can only be achieved if the scenes now evident on the high streets of Clapham, Hampstead, Chiswick and Greenwich are replicated in Zone One.
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