Whilst operations across London slowly begin to start back up, many offices are still empty, reports showing that only 34% of Brits have actually returned to the office amidst the emergence from lockdown and ease in restrictions. For the King’s Cross area in particular, built as the capital’s new tech hub, this has become quite a significant issue.
Whilst the area has started to experience a steady trickle of visitors, as the transition to remote working goes smoothly for many tech companies, the empty offices around King’s Cross have started to raise concerns of a butterfly effect on the rest of the area’s ecosystem – Boris Johnson having now urged people to return to their offices this month as the country’s lunchtime economy suffers.
Whilst some of the local eateries and bars have reported to do even better than before the pandemic, (many surrounding businesses shut and reducing competition) others have reported considerable blows around the area, with market stalls dead and restaurants empty.
Concerns around the area’s eerily empty workspaces have been exacerbated by comments from tech giants Facebook and Google – both of their new London offices set to become defining landmarks of the King’s Cross tech hub skyline.
Facebook has now claimed employees will be remote working for the remainder of the year, whilst Google prolongs a return to the office until July 2021. Although neither of these two offices were set to open before these dates – Facebook’s offices opening in 2021 whilst Google’s groundscraper has yet to set a completion date, if plans from these tech giants are anything to go off, what does the future hold for London’s Silicone Valley if existing King’s Cross-based tech firms follow suit?
Returns to the Office “Fuels Innovation”
Whilst the likes of Facebook and Google are refraining from rushing back to the office anytime soon, reports from others already based within the capital’s tech hub have made promising responses regarding their return to workspaces – BenevolentAI’s CEO Joanna Shield telling Wired she looks forward to the area going back to some normality, highlighting the importance in maintaining a base. Shields commented:
“Our offices are the epicentre of the collaboration, bonding and ideas sharing that fuels innovation. Returning to the office part-time in recent weeks has already reconnected us to the King’s Cross community. I don’t believe we’ll see the permanent demise of the office – or of the vibrancy of King’s Cross – anytime soon.”