Media & Insights

London workers want to return to the office, but more clarity is needed

20 April 2021

  • Increasing confidence about a return to the office, with 58% of workers saying they would be comfortable returning to the office from April 12th, rising to 67% by June 21st
  • Common perception that working remotely has delayed career progression and physical office is better for managing relationships, training and mentoring 
  • 89% of people would feel encouraged to return to their workplace if a free, rapid Covid-19 testing programme was available

In just a year, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to rethink the function of the physical workplace. Office workers were forced to adjust to working from home, but research by Landsec reveals that a majority (58%) of the London workforce now want to return to the office, albeit in a different capacity, but less than half (49%) of office workers are satisfied with the level of communication that they have received from employers about their return-to-work plans.
The research shows offices still play an important role in employees’ relationships and career. When asked to rate certain aspects of work, a quarter of people felt the physical office is better for managing both relationships (24%) and camaraderie with colleagues (24%). This does reflect that the office fosters culture, collaboration, and camaraderie – those aspects that are not possible to replicate virtually.
It also appears that many workers believe their careers have suffered while working at home, with one in three believing that they have missed out on training and mentoring opportunities. And despite the financial challenges faced by many businesses in the capital, 35% of the office workers surveyed believe that they have missed out on a pay rise.
Still, there remains a degree of uncertainty and barriers for workers. For example, transport was seen as the most significant barrier to returning to the office, in terms of the time, hygiene and cost of commuting.

Therefore, health, wellness and safety protocols need to be a priority to encourage people to return to the office. Research shows that 38% of office workers prioritise having better ventilation on their return to the office, while 34% want a greater focus on wellness. Nine out of ten people (89%) would feel encouraged to return to their workplace if a free, rapid Covid-19 testing programme was available.
Marcus Geddes, Managing Director, Central London, said: “It is encouraging to see that office workers are increasingly comfortable about the prospect of a return to the office. This survey clearly demonstrates why the office is so important to people, whether in building relationships, spurring creativity or in building and supporting a company’s culture.
“Office based work will evolve with digital communication, bringing more flexibility for both employers and employees. What office workers need now is greater clarity on how quickly they can embrace a more hybrid model. The Government needs to reassess the roadmap on guidance for working from home, which will allow landlords and employers to provide clearer communication and ensure people feel safe returning to cities on public transport and to their places of work. The sooner that we can get offices working again and people safely back in our cities, the better – the UK’s economic recovery depends on it.”

The online survey of the UK public was conducted in partnership with Portland, which is accredited by the British Polling Council. Portland polled 1,064 UK adults (aged 18+) who work in an office in London zones 1 and 2. For any questions about the methodology, please contact: