The City’s not remotely working.


Today, the Prime Minister is going to urge Britain to go back to work. He’s been saying much the same since June. People don’t seem to paying him much notice. I thought to write a little about how I feel, living and working in the City of London but finding my home and workplace changed utterly – and not wholly for the better.

There is a loneliness about my work days that is beginning to trouble me. My partner works for the Lloyds Banking Group and tells me that the return to work is sporadic. She cannot sit with her team because most of them don’t want to come to London and in any case, there are no allocated desks in London, she says she is lonely, even though she goes into an office.

We have been like this this for well over a year and a half and in that time I have seen the City of London prepare for a return to work – now. But it isn’t happening. The City as a financial centre is still empty, especially on Mondays and Fridays, which appear to have been excluded from the new 3 day week.

According to the Chartered Management Institute, less than half of London’s workers are actually going to work and this is only expected to rise to 56% by the end of the year. We are used to selfies of “brave” people on trains , posted to Linked-in profiles.

Meanwhile we continue to mass socialise, I will be watching Nick Cave in the Albert Hall tonight, along with a couple of thousand ageing acolytes (and my son). These are the same people who find going to work – too much. After an empty conference which included a keynote speech from the Pensions Minister, Professional Pensions found the evening awards ceremony packed.

A common complaint in our household is that the people who claim to be frightened of the office , didn’t seem frightened to get on planes from crowded airport terminals over the summer.

There is a frustration growing – especially among those who want to go to work, that they are as lonely in the office as they are at home. With wages shooting up and job mobility on the increase, many of us wonder whether we will ever be working for the teams we locked down from.

I want my team back, I want my office back, my productivity is declining and my morale is sapping as the nights draw in. And as the nights draw in , the City of London becomes a playground for skateboarders, tourists, clubbers and serious drinkers. Without the work, the City is increasingly becoming a kind of financial theme park full of gawpers booked into what were once business hotels but now act as crash pads for anyone with money and time.

Money and time seem in ready supply , judging by custom in City bars and the drinks being bought. Rounds of cocktails regularly cost over £100 according to my waitress friend in Madisons. Sabines, the roof bar above what was the Grange (now Leonardos) has queues every night of the week, the smell of Blackfriars is no longer cigars, it’s weed.  When I go to the gym, I queue for my towel behind the London Grime scene. Bling and the latest Galaxies in hand, they head for the jacuzzi the gym is empty,

This seems a metaphor for the City. It’s all glitz and glamour, not hard work. When I run around along the Thamea at lunchtime, the offices are empty.

In the evening there are service workers in to clean up but the bins are never full, the kitchens hardly used.

I know that we are more productive by not commuting, but the City itself is un-productive, I imagine Canary Wharf is the same. The City of London reported the sharpest fall in property prices of anywhere in the United Kingdom, we are a ghost City!

This morning, my partner returns, after decamping to the seaside for a couple of weeks. She doesn’t see the point of her workplace but cannot stop going in. I am not wanting to require my team to commute as I don’t see the point for them of dragging them to me. We are all working remotely, but it’s not remotely working. We need to find a fix for work as ironically , we are bored of play.

The messaging is to say the least mixed!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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