The government’s advice for office workers to continue working from home yesterday is worrying news for large commercial real estate properties, says the director of a personal and professional security services firm.
Fawad Ahmad, co-founder and director of personal & professional security services firm, SmartSec Solutions told Facilitate that “businesses operating in the heart of London, from cafes, restaurants, retail outlets or large corporations, have had a carrot dangled in front of them which has now been snatched away”.
Ahmad said: “We fully support any measures to keep people safe during these challenging times. But we need to start asking some serious questions about the future of London. What will be done to ensure people continue coming back to work in the City? The UK cannot afford to see London head back to the eery quiet it experienced at the height of lockdown.”
He said: “We speak to our tenants on a daily basis and many of them were already understandably reluctant to get onto the tube to come to work.”
According to Ahmad the government should “seriously consider reviewing the congestion charges and other parking fees to then allow people to drive to work at their convenience, at least for a set period of time”.
Businesses should also be encouraged to introduce shift patterns to ensure their operations are kept fluid. This will play a huge role in safeguarding the future of a business and its workforce, and keep London’s heart beating.
“Make no mistake about it, we risk losing a large number of commercial real estate properties, in the heart of the capital, to blocks of residential flats. One of our corporate buildings with a capacity of 3000 was recently operating to a maximum occupancy of 200, which it was hitting. Now, we are sure to see that number decrease. Landlords will seriously consider their options if their buildings remain empty.
He also highlighted the impact of events on the mental health and wellbeing of security officers who are managing near-empty buildings on a day to day basis.
“Many, along with other key workers, are using the tube to come to work because they don’t have another option. If they don’t work then they don’t get paid. They are putting both their physical and mental health on the line to help us all come out the other side of this mess. Not only must this be recognised, but they should have more support to allow them to get to work safely,” said Ahmed.