London, New York, Paris … Covid’s first vacant business districts are rediscovering themselves

London, New York, Paris ... Covid's first vacant business districts are rediscovering themselves

From Paris to New York, via London or Frankfurt, Major business districts around the world Haunted for 14 months, most of them are scared Virus And teleworking. With the health crisis, each country has actually taken different measures and is now organizing itself in its own way in the face of a gradual reopening. This is especially the case On Wall Street, Closed for eight weeks in the spring of last year, and the health protocol was finally relaxed.

An “example to the rest of the business world”

Since May 2020, telecommunications have been the norm on the New York Stock Exchange, with very few brokers or traders on the spot. So the news of a return to virtual normalcy has pleased more than one. “This is a step back to normalcy. We have more freedom to welcome more employees to the site. While it is always necessary to respect social distance, it will be closer to what we already know,” says Jay Woods, chief executive officer at a brokerage firm.

While teleworking is still widespread in the United States, many large U.S. banks really want to set a precedent, and they are gradually supporting the return of their teams. Like Goldman Sachs, it plans to bring back its staff in mid-June. According to Jay Woods, Wall Street could be an example. “We closed because it was the heart of the crisis. But now that we’re back, we want to show other parts of the business that we have so much time to come back,” continues the man who leads his teams on the famous Wall Street trading platform.

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City offices have been converted into housing

In Europe, activities were very different in business districts. Especially in Frankfurt, where teleworking has never been the norm, two-thirds of companies have already announced that they will not tell their employees to distance themselves. From the side From London, On the contrary, according to some businessmen, the offices are half empty and no deadline has been set for returning to the city campus. Some will be converted into homes or rented out to start-ups.

According to Paris La Defense, signs of recovery are already being seen: 20 to 30% of employees are back in business, companies are gradually increasing their size and office sales are averaging over the last ten years. Total builds a new tower there.

On the Society General’s side, we follow another strategy. This is because as teleworking progresses, it does not mean less presence in La Defense. “We bring people who have been on campus elsewhere to this site. It’s a central place when we get customers, which is huge,” explains Carolyn Gillemin, the group’s human resource development department.

“Evolving towards a hybrid function”

So no office in La Defense is planned to disappear, but an option to reconsider everything and relocate. This is how Pierre-Yves Guys, the director general of the public institution, imagines the coming months. “They have to change the architectural configuration and working conditions to evolve towards a hybrid function,” he explains. “Offices will not disappear, but their benefits will be directed towards the role of socialization and the creation of value added among working groups.”

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Because unlike the city of London, the business district of the French capital is not limited to shopping malls. It also has a good number of shelters, Rotation tracksS, restaurants and places to live. Especially since a lot of projects are still in the pipeline, La Defense will allow for better progress.

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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