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Office Space in Town (OSiT), a London-based flexible and serviced office space providers, has announced a new manifesto to call on businesses to put employees at the forefront of their revival strategies to help drive London’s rebuilding.

The manifesto details the six key points that OSiT feels businesses should prioritise to help London return to the thriving business, social, and cultural hub it was pre-COVID. Getting people back into the City is key not only for their own wellbeing and productivity, but also for the fortunes of London’s innumerable small independent businesses. With the number of these businesses in London falling 8% during the pandemic (second only to Northern Ireland in the UK), the importance of office workers to the City’s economy has never been highlighted so starkly.

Post-pandemic, businesses across London have struggled to facilitate a return to offices. Indeed, the proportion of UK workers based exclusively at home reached 43.1% in April 2020. Some 8% of the entire workforce did not set foot in an office in 2021, and 30% of workers still work remotely at least once a week. 

The manifesto below will form the basis of a genuine plan for London businesses to help support its rebuilding post-Covid.

OSiT therefore calls on business to:

  1. Put employees first
  2. Prioritise diversity and inclusion
  3. Build a strong company culture
  4. Empower employees to improve productivity
  5. Understand your office requirements
  6. Take social impact seriously

Putting employees first is of upmost importance. OSiT’s own research highlights how powerful anonymous polling of company workforces can be in understanding their desires and concerns. By surveying OSiT’s clients’ employees in lockdown, they found that more than half had seen their mental health deteriorate while working from home, so OSiT took action to facilitate a safe return to the office as soon as was feasible. Businesses across London should embrace this approach to inform the building of a happier and healthier workforce.

Research also shows that workers who are largely office-based are the most productive, while at the same time they are less likely to suffer burnout or seek a move, reducing employee turnover and enabling businesses to scale up more quickly.

Prioritising diversity and inclusion should follow, and London’s business community should be representative of its status as a global cosmopolitan city. However, representation loses its value if it is confined to junior positions. Businesses should therefore step up their efforts to reflect it at senior management and board level too. In addition, professional development opportunities should be built for a hybrid working world, for instance, by embracing flexible working models that have been proven to improve gender equality.

Building a strong company culture is key to attracting workers back into the office. Indeed, people come into the office for more than just work. While some people argue that they work better from home, there is simply no substitute for the cultural benefits of working together, as a team, in person. Cultural benefits also go beyond businesses themselves, as city-centre offices provide workers with access to all the after-work amenities that London has to offer.

Empowering employees to improve productivity is a great way for businesses to work with their workers on their professional development, not only in their own roles but also with a view to the jobs that they may aim for in the future. This longer-term, bigger-picture approach would spread the benefits of better training and strong company culture more widely throughout London’s business ecosystem, while empowering employees themselves. If the UK is to close the productivity gap to other developed countries, we must make people’s work life about learning as well as earning.

Understanding your office requirements is imperative. Businesses must recognise that their “workspace” is now far more than just a space for work. With competition for top talent intensifying, they should invest in next-generation offices that are fit for the hybrid future, with breakout spaces, videoconferencing facilities, gyms, shops, cafes, and even GPs. Convenience is key to the success of any post-pandemic city.

Taking social impact seriously should be at the forefront of the agenda. Indeed, ESG is a top priority for virtually every business, but too many conversations around environmental, social, and governance issues lack transparency, measurability, and accountability. At OSiT, we have appointed Georgia Sandom as our Director of ESG with a brief to devise and implement an ESG strategy that delivers tangible results. Businesses seeking inspiration can view our strategyhere.

Businesses observing these six points will contribute greatly to the rebuilding of the UK’s capital, returning it to the beacon of opportunity and productivity it has always been.

Niki Fuchs, CEO at OSiT, said: “In inviting businesses to sign up to the strategy outlined here, OSiT hopes to sustain London’s status as a global hub of commerce and innovation. Our capital has long been a sought-after location for businesses from all over the world, and we must do all we can to keep this invaluable asset in the thriving condition that makes us all so proud to be part of it.

As the driving force behind any business, this work must start with our employees. Seeding a return to offices will help businesses get back on track to do bigger and better things together, in turn rebuilding the valuable business community London has always treasured.” 

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