LONDON, May 24 (Xinhua) -- A long-term shift to hybrid working, with staff dividing their time between home and office working, could have an unintended impact on London's economy, an academic-led report warned on Wednesday.
The report titled "Office politics: London and the rise of home working," published by the research and policy institute Centre for Cities, looks at the potential unintended impact on the British capital's economy of adopting hybrid work arrangements permanently.
The lockdowns instigated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a mass experiment in the way that large parts of the economy functioned, with millions of people switching to home-working, the report said.
A survey commissioned for the research found that in April 2023, central London workers went into their offices 2.3 days per week on average, only about 59 percent of pre-pandemic (January 2020) levels.
While return to the office is likely to be a good thing for London's economy, there are questions about whether this will be enough to deliver the productivity growth that London and the country's wider economy desperately needs.
Face-to-face interaction and agglomeration -- the geographic concentration of economic activity -- have been important for London's growth for a long time, the report stressed.
In particular, the report highlights the impact on creativity, knowledge creation and on-the-job learning, which it says is more of a challenge in a hybrid or fully remote arrangement.
Andrew Carter, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, said that 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," said Carter.