Central London office lettings hit in WFH year, but demand improving

T

he working from home guidance for much of last year and Covid-19 disruption, led to central London office lettings dropping 60%, according to new data.

Take-up in 2020 in central London totalled just 4.3 million square feet, compared to 10.8 million square feet the prior year, preliminary research compiled by property agent Savills for the Evening Standard shows.

The company pointed out there could be some last minute deals that occurred late last year and are yet to be announced.

 Last year’s slump was due to Covid-19 disruption, with travel restrictions making viewings more difficult, and some bosses holding off on office move decisions as they tried to ride out the virus crisis.

 Numerous office staff have worked from home since March last year, and firms have looked at whether to embrace more remote and flexible working longer term.

 Josh Lamb, director in the City office agency team at Savills, said: “That the data shows that overall leasing was substantially down in 2020 compared to previous years will come as a shock to no one, but there are positive signs that the worst may be over.”

He said that by early December the firm was seeing signs of growing levels of underlying demand, with both active and potential City and central London requirements up 6% on the previous month.

Lamb said: “The successful roll out of a vaccine over the coming months will support a return to the office, so we’re generally optimistic about 2021’s prospects.”

A number of companies are expected to look at more flexibility for staff in future, with a mixture of home and office work.

Companies that inked deals last year for London office space included streaming giant Netflix and law firm Covington & Burling.

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