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London Staff are working less than half the week in the office

London Staff are working less than half the week in the office
An office worker crosses a road junction in the City of London, UK, on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. The UK labor market showed some signs of cooling as wage growth slowed for the first time in more than a year. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- London employees now appear in the office less than half of the week, suggesting they’re gaining the upper hand in the battle with bosses over working from home.

Older workers are leading a shift toward remote jobs, which risks stunting the development of young staff and hurting city centers, according to the research group Centre for Cities. It found that people in London spent on average 2.3 days in the office per week in April, down from 3.9 days just before the pandemic.

The figures suggest that workers are taking advantage of an ultra-tight labor market to gain more flexibility even as employers and government ministers voice concerns about the impact of home working. Surveys suggest many employers would prefer to see people back in the office, raising concerns about the productivity of those at home.

Transport data shows that a post-Covid recovery in workers returning to the office stalled in 2023 with exits from Underground stations in central London stations holding at 70% of the level prevailing in February 2020. Workers over 30 years old were more likely to be work remotely at a pace of 2.5 days a week compared with 2.1 days for those under 30.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said the benefits for workers “must be balanced with the potential longer-term costs of lower levels of creativity and less on-the-job learning — particularly for younger workers.”

“London’s city center has been an enormous success story over the last hundred years,” he said. “Unless something fundamental has changed in how people generate and share ideas, the future should be at most a moderated version of the past.”

In a bid to tempt more workers back, the researcher called on officials to encourage a minimum number of days in the office and for the London Mayor to consider a scrap peak transport fares temporarily on Fridays.

Employers have scrambled to fill widespread staff shortages in the UK after a wave of workforce drop outs and surge in vacancies.

However, the balance of power between workers and bosses may be shifting as the labor market loosens. There are signs that some Britons are returning to the jobs market and vacancies have cooled from last year’s record highs.

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