Welcome to cube city. Xu Weiping, a Chinese multimillionaire, has a vision for the future of office work in the post-Covid-19 pandemic world: thousands of office pods where each person works in their own self-contained 3m x 3m cube.
Xu reckons the coronavirus pandemic will have such a fundamental impact on the way people work that he is converting 20 newly constructed office buildings in east London into 2,000 of the individual cube offices.
If the cubes, which feature a kettle, fridge, microwave, videoscreen and fold-down bed as well as a chair and desk, prove popular Xu plans to convert all of his £1.7bn 35-acre regeneration project in east London into more than 10,000 of the individual cubes.
Xu’s Advanced Business Parks (ABP) company had spent years negotiating a deal to redevelop the Royal Albert Docks, which overlooks London City airport in Docklands. The development was finally approved in 2015 by the then prime minister, David Cameron, and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who toasted the deal at a lavish ceremony at Mansion House.
The project was, Xu said, very popular, with potential tenants agreeing to rent more than half the 21 buildings constructed in the first phase of the development.