Learning from lockdown: Is there a future for the office?

70pic2_89053

Covid-19 may have emptied our cities and changed the way some people do their jobs for ever, but reports of the death of the office are premature, writes Dave Rogers

Last month, a former chairman of the National Trust wrote a column for a national newspaper suggesting that the office block had had its day. Simon Jenkins, a former editor of the Evening Standard and The Times, wondered whether office workers now needed office blocks. “When the coronavirus has passed,” he told Guardian readers, “I believe the truth will be revealed.” In other words, no.

Jenkins, it seems, will not be mourning the end of the office block. “It has to be good news,” he went on. He wrote of a decade of London non-planning which meant that hundreds of speculative offices were in the pipeline, most of it “probably useless”.

He will no doubt have been buoyed by the news that the amount of new office space actually being built in the middle of London collapsed in the past six months as the impact of lockdown, jittery developers and staff working from home all helped put the brakes on schemes. The latest London office crane survey from Deloitte showed just 2.6m sq ft began in the period between April and September – a fall of 50% on the previous six months.

This is premium content. 

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or SUBSCRIBE to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN

A subscription to Building Design will provide:

  • Unlimited architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a print copy of WA100 worth over £30 when it is published in December.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts