The rise in hybrid working has seen one of the UK’s biggest wealth managers scrap a plan to move into a new City of London head office.
In 2019 Brewin Dolphin announced it planned to leave its premises next to Smithfield Market just west of the City for a site on Cannon Street close to St Paul’s Cathedral. It was to move in during 2022.
About 700 of the firm’s 2,000 employees worked at the Smithfield site prior to the Covid pandemic. Larger offices had been sought because of increases in headcount.
But now the 1762-founded UK FTSE 250 firm has now revealed that the flexible working revolution has caused it to ditch the £10m plan – a sign that the rise of hybrid and flexible working during the pandemic is being seen by businesses as a permanent trend.
Brewin said: “Having subsequently evaluated office space requirements post pandemic, which includes a more flexible working model for staff, the firm has decided to remain in its current office in Smithfield, as it has the capacity to fulfil its current needs and future growth.”
It said Dechert, the law firm, had agreed to take three of the floors at the Cannon Street site and that it was in talks with other interested parties for the rest of the space.
Brewin Dolphin manages £56bn in funds primarily for high net worth clients.
The company’s move chimes with decisions made by some of the UK’s biggest banks, which announced plans to reduce office space earlier this year, a bet that remote work is here to stay even after the pandemic ends.
HSBC in February announced plans to cut its global real estate footprint by 40% and Lloyds revealed it would reduce office space by about 20% by 2023. Standard Chartered said it intended to downscale by a third over the next three to four years.
“The pandemic has accelerated trends in employee expectations and the shift towards more flexible working,” Lloyds said.
Office providers have, however, reported business picking up. But rather than this being because firms are seeking extra space, it has been down to firms seeking hybrid working solutions – moving into more appropriate buildings. Serviced office giant IWG, for example, said in August it had added a record 90 new clients in the first half of 2021 and experienced a strong recovery in meeting room and day office usage.