HSBC calls five-days-a-week office work ‘unnecessary’ and scraps exec floor

Simon Neville, PA City Editor
·2-min read

The executive floor at HSBC’s London headquarters has been abolished as the global bank adapts to the new working environment in the post-Covid world.

Chief executive Noel Quinn told the Financial Times top managers will leave their 42nd floor private offices in its Canary Wharf skyscraper and now hot-desk with other staff on the two floors below.

HSBC is the latest business to offer flexibility to its workers in a shift towards more home working by some of the UK’s biggest firms.

Noel Quinn, HSBC chief executive
Noel Quinn, HSBC chief executive, will now hot-desk with colleagues (HSBC/PA)

He told the newspaper: “Our offices were empty half the time because we were travelling around the world. That was a waste of real estate.

“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.

“We don’t have a designated desk. You turn up and grab one in the morning,” he added. “I won’t be in the office five days a week. I think it’s unnecessary… It’s the new reality of life.”

Mr Quinn is looking to cut 40% from its global head-office costs with city-centre office leases not expected to be renewed and offices that remain will have a policy of two employees per desk.

Earlier this month more than 1,200 employees in its contact centres were told they could continue working from home permanently as a result of the coronavirus crisis if they wanted.

According to internal polling, a big majority of the 1,800 staff in sites in England, Wales and Scotland did not want to return to offices as the latest lockdown eases.

The bank is also in the middle of plans to cut 35,000 jobs across its global workforce of 200,000 to reduce costs.

Rivals have announced plans to reduce the number of staff working in offices, with Nationwide offering 13,000 staff the chance to continue working from home.

Lloyds said it was trialling hybrid working with 77% saying they would be interested in continuing to work from home.

Goldman Sachs has been an outlier in the shift to more hybrid working, with staff being told to return to work and already back at their desks.