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Insurer AMP among NZ businesses planning exodus from expensive city centre properties

Hundreds of workers are deserting central cities as companies decide to give up city views – and expansive office blocks.

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Its city centre offices in Wellington and Auckland will be closed for good, and smaller offices found in suburbs. Source: 1 NEWS

The lockdown gave businesses and workers time to reflect on how they wanted to work, and work-life balance.

And for major insurer AMP, it’s time for a change.

“What we’ve found through the lockdown is people said, 'Hey, this is really working.' We certainly observed no impact on productivity, so in response to staff feedback we said, 'Let’s embrace it,'” AMP CEO Blair Vernon told 1 NEWS.

Its city centre offices in Wellington and Auckland will be closed for good, and smaller offices found in suburbs.

“We need space for collaboration, not for traditional working.”

Mr Vernon denies it’s a cost cutting measure.

“We won’t see any economic benefit for two or three years. It’s about productivity for our people. There will be cost save but not in the near term.

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“We have set up a kit for people. We’ve equipped them with laptops, mouse and all that stuff. If you’d rather be in the office, you can do that. If you want to work at home, you can.”

They aren’t paying for power or internet for workers.

“That’s at the margin. We’re finding the saving of time and transport costs are the real benefit.”

But with big companies like AMP moving out, there’s a massive flow-on effect.

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Released today, the University of Otago study showed a lack of commute was one of the biggest advantages for Kiwis. Source: Breakfast

Many city centre cafes, bars and retailers are worried many workers are still staying at home, even at Level 1.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says there’s a triple whammy of no foreign students, no international tourists and big construction projects holding up the city and keeping people away.

For AMP, there’s no going back though – this is a new way of doing business.