Remote Work May Shift 835,000 Jobs Out of London, Report Says

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Central London could lose as many as 835,000 jobs in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, with employees in service industries increasingly able to work remotely and flexibly, according to research by a consulting firm.

An analysis of London’s labor market data by Advanced Workplace Associates, a consultancy based in the U.K. capital, showed that about 41% of people living and working in inner London could do their jobs away from their current office locations.

The firm looked at 13 London boroughs plus the City of London, finding that many workers in the services sector are likely to be able to do their jobs outside the office. That could lead to a shift in where people choose to live.

“More people could now have the flexibility to decide their living situations around personal preference, rather than around where they are employed,” the report authors Andrew Mawson, AWA managing director and associate Lara Al Ansari said. “The movement to flexibility is not new, it has just been accelerated by the experiences of working during the pandemic.”

Younger employees may be seeking lower rental costs while those with families could look for larger space that is more accommodating, the report said.

With more staff able to work remotely, offices could become venues for “fast-moving, high-value tasks,” the report said. Some roles are best suited to offices, including those that require special equipment or that need a secure, regulated environment, the authors noted.

Change could help support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “leveling up” agenda to boost employment and opportunity in U.K. regions, the report said. Much of London’s newly available commercial space could be converted to residential space, it noted.

Employees in the U.K. are currently advised to work from home as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus, though this could end when the nation’s final restrictions are eased. Still, data from remote sensors in office buildings shows that employees entering offices in major U.K. cities rose to almost 50% of pre-Covid levels earlier this month.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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