UK, 24/08/2022


  • A third of workers find commute a challenge as UK contends with another rail strike this summer
  • Office attendance in London dropped by 38% during 18th August rail strike
  • Record breaking temperatures and rail strikes impact office market as it re-builds occupancy


As the UK recovers from its second heatwave in a matter of weeks and temperatures continue to remain above average for British summertime, essensys’ data shows the impact of hot weather on office attendance. When temperatures hit their peak during July’s heatwave office attendance dropped by 32%, with record-breaking temperatures over the summer giving the recovering office market another factor to contend with as landlords look to attract workers back to the office.

Research shows that the daily commute is also adding further pressure on offices to remain competitive, with 28% finding the time spent commuting to the office a challenge and a similar number (24%) finding the cost prohibitive. Against a backdrop of regular train strikes these grievances are a concern for offices looking to re-build occupancy post-pandemic. The most recent rail strike on the 18th of August saw office occupancy across the capital drop by 38%, with a third (29%) less people heading into the office during July’s disruption. While June’s rail disruption saw a significant 60% drop-in office occupancy.

The research carried out by essensys, a leading global software and technology company digitally enabling buildings, spaces and portfolios, highlights the challenges facing our workspaces. With temperatures and strikes out of their control, asset owners and operators should focus on areas where change can enhance experiences, such as technology. The research shows that two-thirds (63%) of UK office workers wish that their in-office technology was more advanced to reduce the frustrations they feel in the workplace. While close to three-quarters of under-34s (73%) are looking for the smart tech they have experienced in offices to be available in their own workplaces.

James Lowery, chief executive UK and Europe, essensys, comments, “A summer of hot weather and rail strikes adds to the challenges for commercial real estate as it seeks to re-attract people back to the office post pandemic. Ensuring in-office technology gives employees a seamless user experience is now vital to remaining competitive in the office market. Real estate’s response to climate change and shifting working patterns is going to come under ever closer scrutiny, with portfolio investment, including tech improvements, crucial to providing workspaces that optimise energy efficiency and create productive, high-quality office environments.”

“Commercial real estate has obviously had a difficult couple of years in light of the pandemic and rising temperatures is yet another challenge to navigate. There has been a fundamental shift in attitudes around how and where we work adding to this, with employees expecting more of their working environments. Having the right digital backbone helps to improve operational efficiency, future proof office spaces, as well as making them productive places to work in the age of hybrid working.”

The impact of heatwaves on air quality should not be underestimated either, with areas of South East England experiencing ozone levels that were nearly double the exposure limits recommended by the World Health Organisation. And whilst there is an increased focus on in-office air quality, essensys’ research found that 83% of UK offices don’t currently have the ability to monitor the quality of air.