City firms band together to brainstorm post-Covid return to work

A group of financial services firms, including Aon, Aviva and Legal & General, have formed a coalition to develop guidelines on the post-Covid-19 future of work in the City and the Square Mile.

The group of 15 City firms, led by Aon, comes as the government backtracks on its back to work campaign, which was supposed to showcase the benefits of returning to the offices for employees who have been working from home since March.

The London Work, Travel & Convene coalition will hold its inaugural virtual meeting on 7 September. It aims to share operational lessons from planning office returns, and look at different approaches to balancing home and office working.

The group of companies plans to publish a report summarising their findings in November.

In a 3 September Treasury Committee meeting, a senior Bank of England official said that offices in central London cannot yet repopulate at full capacity within the Covid-safe guidelines.

“I don’t think we can expect to see a sudden and sharp return of lots of people to very dense office environments that we’re used to,” Alex Brazier, executive director, financial stability strategy and risk at the central bank, told the Committee. “We should expect a phased return depending on the public health outcomes that we’ll see in the coming weeks and months.”

The coalition, which highlights in a 7 September statement the “critical role” large employers play in supporting the communities where they work, was modelled off similar initiatives also led by Aon in New York, Chicago and Dublin.

“While all parts of London face challenges in acclimatising to the ‘new better’ following the government-mandated lockdown, the City and Canary Wharf face specific challenges in getting people back to the workplace, such as high-rise buildings, the density of buildings and people, and dependence on public transport,” said Julie Page, chief executive of Aon UK, in a statement.

“These parts of London also form an interconnected ecosystem, and decisions made by the large employers that inhabit them will be a determinant in London’s ability to move toward societal and economic recovery,” she added.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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