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Time to get back to the city centre office and support hundreds of “work local” businesses

Press release
Friday 29 May 2020

29 May 2020

For immediate release

Time to get back to the city centre office and support hundreds of “work local” businesses

Heart of the City outlines the reasons for employers to bring their teams back into the city centre now that COVID-19 cases are consistently low.

Viv Beck, Heart of the City Chief Executive says it’s time to consider moving away from the isolation of the home office and come back into the city centre. “Our 138,000 strong workforce is the lifeblood of the city centre, bringing customers to our businesses and vibrancy to our streets. With so many other customer taps switched off for the foreseeable future – international tourists, students and events included - city centre workers are key to survival for many small businesses.”

While city centre daily pedestrian counts have risen during Level 2, we are still only seeing a third of our normal Monday to Friday visitation, with many larger firms either working from home or at a 30%-50% capacity. This has a big knock on effect. Local businesses like cafes, retailers, hospitality and other small businesses are desperately missing their weekday trade and more importantly, their regulars.  

“We think it’s time to bring the workers back. With social gatherings lifted to 100 from today and continued days and weeks of zero cases we hope this will translate into more people coming back into the city for work next week.  Many small businesses can’t wait another month for Level 1 as they have ongoing fixed costs and significantly reduced revenue.  We’d like city centre employers to consider their role in supporting their “work local” city centre economy.”

“We know that businesses need to ensure their team’s safety, and that there are some real upsides of working from home, but we believe there are huge advantages of being back in the city for business and the reasons why business chose to be here in the first place still stand.”

Here are five reasons why Heart of the City thinks it’s time to bring the 138,000 strong workforce back to the city centre:

City centre small businesses need you: Supporting your “work local” is critical for vitality and the economic survival of many small city centre businesses. Local spending before COVID was averaging $5M per day.  Level two is only generating 50% of that spend.  Many businesses are reporting minimal customers. Some can’t even open as their regular customers haven’t returned.  We’re sure everyone wants to be able to come back and find their favourite cafés and shops still open – increasing the daily spending now will make a big difference to them.

The reason why you chose to locate here has not gone away: Being in the “centre of things” is one of the main reasons many businesses choose to locate in the city centre. Whether it’s easy client catch-ups, unplanned exchanges on the street or the ability to easily shop or go to the gym at lunchtime, go for dinner and drinks after work or catch a show as a team, there are still major advantages of being located here.  While technology has its place, building culture is easier in person.

The advantages of flexible working can remain:  We’ve all started to appreciate what true flexible working is and there are upsides for many, but there are ways of bringing those benefits into the workplace whilst still being back at the office too.

Transport is easy, even with reduced public transport capacity right now: Staff can get into the city efficiently. Public Transport is working at 43% capacity at the moment to meet safety standards, so you may need to consider flexible start and finish times, which would help ease congestion too. There’s a great AT app that helps tell people when buses are at capacity and AT is also offering reduced off-peak pricing during the month of June.  Staggered times would also be good for people who need to drive and park in the parking buildings.

And it’s enjoyable (there’s nothing like spending your day with real people):  Our city centre is dynamic and evolving with a great offer and employees are probably hanging out for those “real” Friday night drinks with their colleagues or the chance to chat about the weekend over the water cooler.  Not quite so easily achieved over the internet.



Media contact
For further information or to arrange an interview with Viv Beck, contact Tania Loveridge, Heart of the City, 027 293 0835


Notes to editors:
Heart of the City is the business association for the city centre, committed to the growth and success of the city centre as a vibrant, accessible, safe and welcoming urban community