Office workers in central London are currently spending an average of 2.3 days per week in the workplace.

A report by the Centre for Cities found staffers were spending 59 percent of their time in their workplace compared to pre-Covid levels.

The “Office Politics: London and the Rise of Home Working” study cautions against a complete shift to remote work.

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It raises concerns about potential long-term productivity costs for the capital.

The research shows the most common working pattern among respondents is two days a week, accounting for 31 percent of workers. 

However, nearly half of the respondents (three, four, or five days a week) continue to work from the office more frequently. 

Additionally, 75 percent of employers have set a minimum number of days for their staff to be present in the office.

Lead author of the report, Paul Swinney, emphasizes the importance of high-skilled activity being concentrated in city centres, citing productivity benefits. 

Read More: More than a third of UK workers would leave jobs if told to go back to office full time

He highlights the ability to hire from a local pool of skilled labor and the advantages of face-to-face interaction and on-the-job learning among colleagues. 

Swinney suggests it is unclear whether a two-day or three-day workweek can harness these benefits, cautioning against solely focusing on short-term gains.

The study reveals younger workers are more inclined to come into the office, possibly due to the learning opportunities and limited space in their homes caused by high property prices in London.

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The report, supported by the Eastern City business improvement district, proposes several policies to encourage workers’ return to the office. 

These include scrapping peak-time fares on Friday mornings to entice commuters and launching a public information campaign highlighting the advantages of office life.

The Centre for Cities warns against making assumptions about current working patterns as permanent and urges caution in converting commercial properties into residential units too hastily. 

The report emphasizes the need for balanced policies considering short-term and long-term implications.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that came with it inadvertently forced many advanced economies into a big experiment in new ways of working.

“What this does to an economy that relies on creativity and interpersonal interaction is still unclear. But the historic context is vital: London’s city centre has been an enormous success story over the last hundred years.

“Unless something fundamental has changed in how people generate and share ideas, the future should be at most a moderated version of the past.

“Home working has delivered many immediate benefits for workers in knowledge-based industries, such as reduced commuting and more flexibility.

“But these immediate benefits must be balanced with the potential longer-term costs of lower levels of creativity and less on-the-job learning, particularly for younger workers who do an unofficial apprenticeship through learning from their older colleagues.

“Lifting Covid-19 restrictions on its own has not been enough to bring some workers back. Policy makers should be wary that we don’t passively let a public health emergency turn into a longer-term negative impact on the economy.”

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