New Zealand finance company will abandon office space in CBDs due to COVID-19

After three months of working from home throughout the COVID-19 lockdown one finance company has decided to abandon it's CBD offices in favour of fully flexible working.

Specialist KiwiSaver provider AMP Wealth Management is aiming to empty it's Wellington and Auckland offices following "overwhelming" feedback from employees who don't want to go back to the normal way of working.

Around 350 people from Auckland and Wellington will vacate the CBD as a result of the plan.

Blair Vernon, the chief executive for AMP says the lockdown has inspired the company to push forward plans, which were already in motion.

"We have been working towards creating a truly flexible work model for a couple of years, so we're seizing the opportunity and lessons over the last couple of months to accelerate our plans."

He says AMP intends to move into smaller offices and meeting spaces further from the CBD as employees spend less time in the traditional office environment.

"As we've seen through COVID-19 the reality is that your place of work can literally be almost anywhere," said Vernon.

"It's good for our clients, our business and most importantly our people. We think more businesses will be looking to make similar moves."

However the news from AMP has confirmed the fears of small businesses in the CBDs which rely on office workers to keep the lights on.

In Wellington restaurants and cafes are struggling with the decline of their usual customers. 

One sushi restaurant Yoshi says its sales are down 70 percent.

Owner Helen Kono says the lack of office workers is hitting hard. 

"Our store on Lambton Quay is obviously right in the hub of all of the government offices and all that, and we have noticed we have been hit hard," she told Newshub.

It's the same for Mojo; owner Katy Ellis has noticed spending's been slow for some of its 26 cafes - particularly those in areas where Government departments are situated.

"We need you guys back," Kono urged.