Londoners are rather keener on returning to old shopping habits than the office. The latest figures from Transport for London reveal that while weekend Tube numbers are up to 80 per cent of their pre-pandemic levels, on weekdays it is 60 per cent.
This has a knock-on effect on TfL’s finances, which now has £70 million less in fares than it had expected. The reality is that Covid-19 has accelerated trends on flexible working that were already in train prior to March 2020.
Some businesses have taken the opportunity to save money by reducing or even closing their central London office space. Many employees have enjoyed the benefits of remote working, in particular those who have childcare or mobility issues.
An element of flexibility will be the new normal for office workers. But getting the balance right is key. Some city institutions are still requiring no office work. This means that younger workers, for example, will miss out on training and development if all their interactions with senior staff are over a laptop.
And many Londoners are in jobs that require — and have throughout the pandemic — them to be at their workplaces at all times. The Government must practice what it preaches. At present, many civil servants are not going into the office at all. They should instead lead by example.
Boris needs a break
Boris Johnson needs a holiday.
Prime Ministers deserve a break like anyone else. It is no good for the leader of the country to be burnt out. Yet that should not be an invitation for administrative drift.
A well-run government should be able to get on with the job while the boss is away. And a good leader should not have to feel like everything needs to fall apart in their absence to remind others of their indispensability.