United Kingdom

HSBC bosses forced to hot desk in Canary Wharf HQ cut back

Bosses at HSBC have fallen victim to the bank's huge cut back on office space as it attempts to move towards home-working, it has emerged.

Senior staff were recently pushed out of their private offices on the 42nd level of the group's Canary Wharf headquarters and will instead be force to hot-desk two floors below.

The executive floor on one the city's most recognisable buildings will now be turned into client meeting rooms and collaborative spaces. 

It is the latest in a set of sweeping changes being brought in by the bank to set out post-pandemic working practices.

Senior staff were recently pushed out of their private offices on the 42nd level of the group's Canary Wharf headquarters and will instead be force to hot-desk two floors below

The new plan will even affect chief executive Noel Quinn, who believes sharing a desk with other senior colleagues in the London headquarters is 'a new reality of life'.

'Our offices were empty half the time because we were travelling around the world. That was a waste of real estate,' he told the Financial Times.

'If I'm asking our colleagues to change the way that they're working, then it's only right that we change the way we're working.'

Mr Quinn is referring to HSBC's offer to more than 1,200 of its call centre employees to work from home permanently as a result of the coronavirus crisis.   

Contract changes for those who agree to the plan are still being drawn up, with the employees only required to come in to HSBC offices for training.

The new plan will even affect chief executive Noel Quinn (pictured), who believes sharing a desk with other senior colleagues in the London headquarters is 'a new reality of life'

HSBC has a goal of cutting 40 per cent from its global head-office costs as part of a modernising programme and are understood to not be renewing many of its city-centre leases due in the next three to five years.

The bank is also still working through 35,000 job cuts that will reduce total headcount to about 200,000.

Mr Quinn added: 'We will have a very different working style going forward that will be much more hybrid, where colleagues can part work in the office, part at home

The new arrangements for streamlining the business and reducing office costs will see two employees sharing each desk in offices, although this is not the case for local branches.

The bank is also still working through 35,000 job cuts that will reduce total headcount to about 200,000

HSBC's plans appear match the trend among financial institutions as they look to cut down on office space and offer staff more flexible conditions.

Nationwide has given its 13,000 office workers the choice of deciding where they want to work, after more than half – 57% – said they wanted to work from home full-time.

More than a third – 36% – said they preferred a mix of home and office-based work.

Around 22,000 staff at accounting firm PwC were recently told they can spend around half their working hours at home and end shifts early on Fridays in the summer.

The company said the 'Deal' would allow workers to spend on average 40 per cent to 60 per cent of their time on remote working, if they choose.

Lloyds is carrying out trials of hybrid working this spring after 77 per cent of employees 'expressed a desire' to continue working remotely.

Standard Chartered signed an agreement with flexible office company IWG to allow many of its 95,000 staff to work from 'near-home' locations rather than commuting into cities.

It has also been suggested HSBC sees its strongest future in Asia, after Mr Quinn moved another of his top executives from London to work in Hong Kong. 

Nicolas Moreau, the bank's head of asset management, will be the fourth of the bank's bosses to have so far been relocated to the former British territory. 

HSBC has been ramping up its business in Asia as it cuts back its less profitable divisions in Europe and the US. 

It already makes the vast majority of its profits in Asia, but now almost all of the bank's global revenue will be run out of Hong Kong.

In the staff email, Quinn said the executive moves 'underscore the importance of the Asia-Pacific region' which is 'central to our future growth'.

The Canary Wharf office, which has been its headquarters since 2002, is run on a 20-year lease signed in 2007, but is believed to have a break clause in 2022.

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