The volume of office workers returning to their desks across the UK increased by 1.7 percentage points, to 18.3%, last week, thanks to a sharp increase in London’s West End.
According to the latest research from Remit Consulting, an average of 33.4% of staff were back in the office in the West End.
The figures are based on data provided by building managers from over 150 major office buildings around the UK. Remit’s ReTurn Report records the number of workers attending on a daily basis, using data from automatic turnstiles to assess the number of people as a percentage of the capacity for each building.
Remit Consulting’s Lorna Landells said in a statement: “Nationally, the average figure was boosted by the performance of central London, particularly the West End, where the diversity of shops, restaurants and other leisure offers seem to be encouraging more staff to return to the office.
“Anecdotally, the West End certainly has a buzz about it again and there is a feeling of normality in Mayfair, Soho, Westminster and the surrounding areas,” she added.
Remit Consulting reported that the busiest days of the week were, once again, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Nationally, on all three days the average volume of staff at their desks was over 20%, peaking at 21.2% on Thursday.
Figures from Springboard show that footfall across the UK rose by 2.7% on the previous week, with Central London and large city centres recording a growth of 6.5% and 6.1% respectively. However, footfall in areas of Central London that are dominated by offices rather than shops lifted 8.8%.
In Scotland, where the working from home guidance remains in force, the average number of staff at their desks in Glasgow rose slightly to 7.6%, while in Edinburgh it fell by 1.2 percentage points from 16.7% the week before, to 15.5%.
“The slight fall in the weekly data for Edinburgh reflects what has been recorded in other cities across the country since we began the study in the spring. We expect these weekly fluctuations in the data but, without a doubt, there has been a marked upward shift in occupancy rates since early September,” Landells said.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said the data shows that the total volume of workers returning to the office is steadily increasing.
“This is good news both for those who have been keen to regain the benefits of coming together physically to collaborate, generate ideas and learn from each other and for the town centre businesses who rely on office workers for their trade.”
Remit Consulting’s research also looks at the number of external visitors entering office buildings for meetings. These figures also fluctuate week-to-week but are significantly higher than between May and August, when COVID-19 restrictions began to be eased in the UK. At the same time, car park use rates, which are covered by the research, have also increased and last week, they rose from 34.5% to 35.3%.
The data for Remit Consulting’s research is supplied by building and property managers in major UK cities, and the research is supported by the British Property Federation and the Property Advisors Forum.