Number Of Staff Commuting To London Falls To 20%
UNITED KINGDOM – Mobile phone data gathered by Virgin Media O2 shows that the percentage of office employees commuting to work into London plunged to just 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels last week, reported The Telegraph on Wednesday evening (12 January, SGT).
It is just one-fifth of the capital’s commuter levels in February 2020, a month before the first lockdown across the UK came into effect.
Amid continued guidance for staff to work from home (WFH) if possible, crowd volumes in the City of London hit only 25 percent pre-COVID levels last Thursday, which is now often the busiest day of the week for employees of financial firms commuting into the Square Mile.
On the other hand, there were more people patronising restaurants in Soho, a hotspot for restaurants and nightlife. As a matter of fact, visitor numbers there were back to pre-pandemic levels during the prior weekend.
Aside from that, visitor numbers to the Bluewater mall in Kent, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK, even exceeded the visitor numbers in Soho.
Statistics from Virgin Media O2 highlight how a government directive mandating employees to telecommute is at odds with how many people are opting to socialise at pubs and restaurants during their free time.
Last summer, some banking executives lambasted staff’s decision to remotely work, while continuing to go to restaurants and bars.
“If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” said Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman back then.
However, government ministers are looking at whether to extend the prevailing WFH directive beyond the end of January. Without an extension, it would lapse on 26 January 2022.