Central London will never return to normal, says NatWest chairman

Not really. What London ends up doing will be normal……

18 thoughts on “Heh”

  1. What I’ve been saying since March last year. Things will not go back to normal. The best that can be expected is a new normal.
    If nothing else, we’ve established the principal that governments can shut down countries by fiat.So going forward, you have factor in to future planning they might do it again

  2. I was just thinking back to the 2005 London bombings. And the nervous few days following them. Police uselessly standing around outside tube stations. Few less people using public transport but traffic a little lighter if anything. London pretty well carried on as if nothing had happened. As it did through various IRA campaigns. As my parents & grandparents generations tried to do during the Blitz.
    Is there any doubt that today’s government would have shut the whole place down on the precautionary principal? Possibly other cities with it? Had people confined to their homes. Only essential shops opening.
    So what are they going to do the next time something happens?

  3. I suspect the new normal will be more like the old normal than people think. In countries where the government has not imposed WFH for the best part of 18 months, people have – by and large – gone back to to the office. In nations where the hospitality industry has not been wrecked, people are going into town to eat and drink.

    At the margins there will be change for sure (there was change pre-COVID too) and London, in common with many cities, has too much office space. And we knew already that there is far too much retail space. That means a lot of opportunity to do interesting things in city centres. It also means a lot of pension funds hold woefully overvalued property.

    However, I may be underestimating the power of the UK’s bedwetter/skiver population and its unwillingness to leave the house.

  4. “because employees will not come back to the office five days a week”

    And here’s the next problem: if people aren’t coming into the office 5 days a week, why does your office need to be in central London/Bristol/Reading/Manchester? These places are about lots of rail connections in lots of directions, so lots of commuters can get in with a 30 minute train ride. Change it to one day per week, and people don’t mind that being a 60-90 minute train ride, or you get in a car and drive to the office. That opens up a lot of other places where you can put your office.

    I was talking to a company in Cardiff and a company in Richmond. Neither of these places were on my radar before. Just too far to travel. But one day a week? Yeah, I’ll do Cardiff one day a week.

  5. BIS,

    “Is there any doubt that today’s government would have shut the whole place down on the precautionary principal? Possibly other cities with it? Had people confined to their homes. Only essential shops opening.
    So what are they going to do the next time something happens?”

    Another thing on that is that we now have the remote work option. Like the last RMT strikes of around 6-7 years ago really didn’t bite because so many people had laptops and VPNs (and some of this was in response to the earlier RMT strikes getting them to be prepared). The price of laptops compared to people’s salaries is a fraction of what it was in 2005.

  6. BoM4 is on the money, I reckon

    There’s a bigly yuge opportunity for businesses to save a fortune on real estate. This was coming anyway, the coof just gave us all a crash course in digital transformation.

  7. “This time is different” is one of the great lies. Always bet against it and you’ll be right 9 times out of 10.

    So count me out that things will be different because some governments over-reacted. If it made sense before, it makes sense after.

    NZs experience is that people *like* going to the office. We are social a animals, the misanthropic commenters here notwithstanding.

  8. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “The price of laptops compared to people’s salaries is a fraction of what it was in 2005.”

    True, but retards in IT departments following retarded policies still insist that 3 layers of manager sign off on getting a new computer to a drone whose daily lost productivity exceeds considerably the price of said new laptop.

  9. IF working at home becomes more of a thing, and IF that adversely affects every sandwich and coffee shop, and (no if at all) inner-city retail can’t survive, what is the city for? Why change all those offices and department stores into living accommodation when there is no reason to live there any more?

    Oh, stabbings. They need somewhere to get together for them.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    It was said right at the start, pandemics accelerate change. There was a move towards more home working, those who were reluctant to allow it had no choice.

    It’s now easier to get online shopping slots because the supermarkets were pushed towards investing in the infrastructure faster than they were doing. That’s not going away.

    Same as buying other stuff online, people are happier doing it and the delivery companies have upped their game. There even seems to be some coordination in the last mile delivery, I had 3 packages from different companies all delivered at the same time by the same courier.

  11. @BoM4
    I think the WFH option is very much bubble thinking for the broadsheets. The country only has so many administrators & desk jockeys. Most things need doing need people where they’re done doing them. Although distributing that’s being going on for years. It’s the desk jockeys have remained in the cities.

  12. BIS,

    “I think the WFH option is very much bubble thinking for the broadsheets. The country only has so many administrators & desk jockeys. Most things need doing need people where they’re done doing them. Although distributing that’s being going on for years. It’s the desk jockeys have remained in the cities.”

    That’s spot on. This is an echo of what happened with things like breweries in the 1990s. As road transport got so much better, breweries stopped brewing in places like London and Oxford and moved out to Suffolk and Wiltshire, and transported beer into cities. It was a better value way to do it.

    This won’t have much effect on some accountant in Worcester, because people don’t have expensive 45 minute commutes and high house prices there. There’s no real gain from WFH.

    But I think this will have huge effects on major cities with high rents and will probably lead to more of a rebalancing of the economy.

  13. It’s Howard Davies.

    He has never knowingly been right about anything, apart from how to progress his career.

  14. NZs experience is that people *like* going to the office. We are social a animals, the misanthropic commenters here notwithstanding.

    The commuting experience in NZ (even Auckland) is very, very different from commuting into a large British city.

  15. @BiS
    I was just thinking back to the 2005 London bombings. And the nervous few days following them. Police uselessly standing around outside tube stations. Few less people using public transport but traffic a little lighter if anything. London pretty well carried on as if nothing had happened. As it did through various IRA campaigns. As my parents & grandparents generations tried to do during the Blitz.

    I was in London during the height of the IRA bombings. I recall one evening in the (old) Lloyds building after work, and we heard two bombs go off (followed by lots of sirens etc). We didn’t let it interrupt our bridge game.

  16. NZs experience is that people *like* going to the office. We are social a animals, the misanthropic commenters here notwithstanding.

    The commuting experience in NZ (even Auckland) is very, very different from commuting into a large British city.

    The desire to get together in the office has been pretty strong in my place of work in Brum, which is a horrible place to get around.

  17. I’m not arguing that nobody will ever go into an office ever again, simply that 9-5 for 5 days a week is over and done (for those that get a choice about it). There will be some exceptions, but they’ll be just that – exceptions.

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