Contact Us

WFH Begins To Wane As UK Regions Go Back To The Office

The days of working from home could be numbered in UK regional cities.

It's taken a long time, and the signal is still faint, but that noise is the sound of the UK regions dragging themselves away from home comforts and returning to the office. Maybe.

Slender but real evidence that the post-holiday return to work means a return to working from the office suggested that something is moving in the UK office market. Funding and occupational deals seem to point the same way.

Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, signed up for 110K SF at One Centenary Way, part of MEPC’s £1.2B Paradise Birmingham development. The bank has recruited 250 staff, said it plans to recruit hundreds more, and has options to allow it to accommodate up to 1,000. The ratio of workspace to staff suggests relatively little home working is envisaged in the longer term.

Working from home will play a larger role in the UK government's new regional hub in Manchester, if floorspace ratios are any guide. A £105M funding deal from the Pension Investment Corporation, agreed this week, secures 130K SF of floorspace for up to 2,500 staff. This includes around 700 relocating from London.

The statistical evidence for a slow but sure return to working from the office is hard to discern, thanks to changes in the way data was collected. Official numbers from the UK's Office for National Statistics appeared to show an abrupt surge in working from the office up to April, when around 60% of workers reported travelling to work. At the same time hybrid working appeared to be staging a modest increase, overtaking working from home, but neither accounted for more than 15% of the workforce surveyed.

However, the ONS changed the way it asked its questions and from May 2022 onward the data has shown appreciably more hybrid working and less working at the office. The bright spot was an early summer uptick in working from the office and similar downward trend on working from home.

Data supplied by Statista seems to reinforce the positive trend of early summer. After an understandable lull during the holiday period, travelling to work accounted for 66% of workforce habits in September, up from 63%. Working from home fell from a July peak of 40% to just 35%.