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Will the Coronavirus Create a Shift Away from City Centers?

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.

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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.

ABOUT Jo Meunier (née Disney)
Jo Meunier (née Disney)

Jo is AllWork's Senior Editor for the UK and Europe. Jo has worked within business centre and coworking circles since 2009, researching and contributing written features for numerous industry publications. She reports on the latest market news and delves into local issues with one main objective: to champion the flexible workspace industry and its members. Get in touch with Jo here or via [email protected]. View all posts by Jo Meunier (née Disney)

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