Slow revival for London office occupancy levels

A view of the financial district of the City of London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
A view of the financial district of the City of London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

London offices are filling up again after the holiday season but occupancy is still no higher than it was at the start of the summer with workers still reluctant to give up their new hybrid working habits, new data shows.

Office occupancy levels in the capital stood at 32.9% in the week ending September 8 according to new research from Remit Consulting, which tracks figures provided by building managers,

That was up from 24.7% in the prior seven days, and growth came as many workers returned from holidays and school term started.

The West End had the highest figure last week, 46.9%, which was ahead of the City and Docklands, respectively recording 29.8% and 39.2%. The UK average was 31.3%

Although the latest London total is the highest since the school holidays started, it is only in line with what was seen in June and the first half of July when occupancy stood at above 30% each week.

Hybrid working has been embraced post-pandemic with various surveys pointing to three days in the office being popular. However, some employers are keen to have staff in headquarters more frequently.

Lorna Landells at Remit Consulting said: “The figures are very similar to those seen 12 months ago, and while the data has been stable for many months, given the increasing number of businesses mandating a return to the office, we may see an increase in office occupancy rates over the next few weeks.”

Even before the pandemic average office occupancy was only about 60% with some staff working remotely or off sick or on holidays at any one time.

Data from Mastercard yesterday showed how restaurant spending as a proportion of the London total has boomed in residential areas such as Dulwich in the past four years, and fallen in the City, Canary Wharf and Victoria.