BP Plc is planning to sell its headquarters in central London as the company shifts towards a more flexible working system amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Times reported.

The oil giant, which employs 6,500 office staff in the UK, plans to rent back the building on St. James’ Square from the new owner for as long as two years before leaving the iconic building for good.

BP is joining the long list of companies who are also changing their work styles after many employees began working from home in an effort to avoid spreading and contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus. Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney has said the company will move to a mixture of home and office working.

The plan highlights the uncertainty the property market is facing as the coronavirus sent office workers to setups in their kitchens or living rooms, emptying towers in the City and Canary Wharf business centres and elsewhere across London.

Only 13 percent of workers were back to their offices this month in London. Across the nation’s 63 biggest urban centers the number was 17 percent, The Times said, citing analysis of mobile phone data.

The building, which BP bought for 117 million pounds (US$156 million) in 2001, could potentially be priced at more than 300 million pounds today.


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