Monday 16 November 2020 5:35 pm

Unused office space 'to cost London firms £13bn', survey shows

The shift to homeworking, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, could cost London businesses almost £13bn in unused office space, according to the latest research.

London office workers want to spend an average of 2.7 days per week back in the office once all coronavirus restrictions are lifted, as long as they have the resources to work from home comfortably, a survey has shown. 

Before staff were ordered to work from home at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown in March, employees spent an average of 4.2 days a week working from the office. 

Analysis by office share startup Space Three Two found that the drop in the number of days that the office is used could result in companies shelling out billions of pounds on unused desks.

The company said that the total London commercial rental market is worth around £17.9bn.

 If the number of days spent in the office falls to 2.7 days, the utilisation rate per workplace would drop from 44 per cent to 28 per cent, equating to a 72 per cent wastage rate.

As a result, unused desks could cost businesses £12.84bn in total. 

“London businesses will be spending a combined £12bn on office space that they do not need once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted”, said Jon Dweck, founder of Space Three Two.

 “Desk utilisation was already a major issue pre-Covid, with more than 50 per cent of all desks empty at any given moment.

“Post-Covid, due to changing working practices and reduced workforces, we can expect 7/10 of all office desks to be empty at any given time.”