Brits don’t have the appetite to return to the office, at least not full time

jack pringle grey

Clients seem divided on what do with their office space, but most think the pandemic will permanently change how and where staff work, says Jack Pringle

Since last writing I was elected to the RIBA council, after a gap of 13 years, topping the London region pole. Thank you to any of you RIBA members who voted for me. RIBA is in a bit of a state and there is lots to be done. More of that another time after I’ve got my feet under the table.

Boris Johnson announced the great return to the office on 17 July. Last month, I went in for the first time since March. It was an eerie deja vue as I had written a column back in April on how it might be, based on my Shanghai office’s experience of doing the same. But there were two signal differences. First we don’t have the reassuring track and trace app that the Chinese had working back in April (that’s a whole other article about our incompetence) which controlled access to public transport and offices. Secondly, where the return to the office in Shanghai was seen as a celebration with the maximum number of staff attending per shift, in London our office which is set for more than two hundred staff had a bare dozen of lonely souls in it.

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