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Bankers lose their offices


Hot desking means they will have to work elsewhere

The days of a banker getting a swanky office appear to be coming to an end. Banking giant HSBC has confirmed that top managers in its Canary Wharf HQ have lost their offices and will have to hot-desk on an open-plan floor.

HSBC wants to shrink its office space by 40 percent in a post-pandemic shake up and CEO Noel Quinn said the whole bank was embracing “hybrid working” and he would no longer come in five days a week.

“My leadership team and I have moved to a fully open-plan floor with no designated desks”, he said on Linkedin.

Top bankers have been based on the 42nd floor of the building in east London in their own private offices. But in future, they will be fighting for workspaces two floors down, while their old offices have been transformed into client meeting rooms and other communal spaces.

Quinn told the FT that the old arrangement had been “a waste of real estate”, adding: “Our offices were empty half the time because we were travelling around the world.”

He added that most staff at the bank would be able to work part-time from home in future.

“A small number of roles can be done wholly remotely, but we estimate, though, that most of our roles could be done in a hybrid way — and that includes the executive team of the bank and me.”

Other firms in the sector have announced plans to embrace hybrid working as employees signal their desire to commute less.

Nationwide building society has indicated that it does not intend to force people to return to the office if they have successfully worked from home during the pandemic. It said about two-thirds of its 18,000 employees had been working from home for the past year.

HSBC is not alone in shedding properties in Europe. Lloyds Bank is also moving toward a hybrid model. This entails a 20 percent cut in office space over the next two years. The move was made after about 77 percent of Lloyds’ 68,000 employees said they wanted to work from home for three or more days a week.

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