Finance

Aviva plans to slash UK office space by up to 30% by end of 2021

UK insurer Aviva plans to cut up to 30% of its 1.7 million square feet office space across the UK.

The announcement, made during an analyst presentation on 4 March alongside the blue-chip’s 2020 results, comes as workers across the UK continue to work remotely as the government slowly reopens the economy after a third lockdown in England to control the spread of Covid-19.

“By the end of 2021, we will reduce our property footprint by 30%,” said chief executive Amanda Blanc during the call.

“As we enable a greater level of digitisation and agility across our operations, we will need fewer physical premises, with our employees able to work remotely as they service the needs of our customers,” Blanc added.

Separately, Bloomberg reported on 4 March that the insurer was looking for a new headquarters in the City of London, citing anonymous sources. The FTSE 100 company’s headquarters at St Helen’s are in the heart of the Square Mile. A spokeswoman for Aviva declined to comment on this.

“We remain committed to St Helen’s, it is our headquarters and we have a lease on the building until 2024,” the spokeswoman said.

The insurance firm is far from alone in reconsidering its office space following the mass move to work from home since the beginning of the pandemic.

Law firm Baker McKenzie announced in February that it would reduce the amount of office space it is taking in a new development at 280 Bishopsgate, cutting its requirements from 150,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet.

READ Baker McKenzie cuts floorspace in new City office lease on Covid WFH success

KPMG UK’s former chair Bill Michael said that new measures that would see staff split their time between home working and the office could lead to a cut in the amount of office space the company needs.

“It is probable that we will have less physical footprint,” Michael had told Financial News on 3 February. “We are looking at how much we would need and trying to predict exactly how much that is.”

READ Mood lighting, showers and lots of masks — The post-Covid City office is coming

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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