At the end of April, Barclays boss Jes Staley declared that big, expensive city offices “may be a thing of the past”. This, he said, is in response to the coronavirus and Barclays, along with many other major financial institutions, are facing a “long-term adjustment” of their location and office space strategy.
Jonathan Ratcliffe from Offices.co.uk noted that “we’re witnessing the biggest shift of a generation”, as huge, centralised HQ buildings start to be replaced with a “new culture of flexible working and regionalisation of office space”.
What does this mean for the major markets? Will city centers see a huge exodus?
Some believe that we will see a gradual decentralization as firms move teams outside of congested areas and set up satellite hubs around the country, possibly utilizing flexible workspace to do so.
Andrew Roughan, managing director of coworking space and accelerator Plexal, in East London, believes even though there may be a shift away from city centers, most companies still want and need an “epicentre around which people coalesce”, not least because of the “availability of talent and the cultural experience of living there”.
Moreover, many large companies have long-term leases and are unlikely to abandon them. However, that space could be repurposed, potentially leading to a change in the way office space is used and creating a more collaborative and cultural environment to enable staff to connect with the company brand.