HSBC will cut 3.6 million square feet of office space this year as the majority of its workforce move into a flexible working model in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK lender plans to cut up to 20% of its real estate footprint by the end of this year, its chief executive Noel Quinn said during its first quarter earnings call, reflecting a permanent shift in the way the bank’s employees work.
“We’re moving to a hybrid working model wherever possible, giving our people the flexibility to work in a way that suits both them and their customers,” said Quinn. “We will need less office space as a result.”
The planned reduction in office space this year represents around half of the 40% reduction in real estate outlined by chief operating officer John Hinshaw in February.
While Quinn did not outline specific plans for how the bank’s new hybrid approach would work for the majority of its some 226,000 staff, he said the “future should be different to the past” and banks need to embrace flexible working, which will help with diversity initiatives.
“Many organisations used to talk about flexible working, and allowing people to get a work-life balance, but I don’t think we really, as a community of businesses, we really embraced that to the fullest possible extent,” he added. “I think now is the time to embrace it much more fully.”
HSBC’s executive team have given up their offices on the 42nd floor of its Canary Wharf headquarters, instead opting for hot desks in an open-plan floor two storeys below.
“Our offices were empty half the time because we were travelling around the world. That was a waste of real estate,” Quinn 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.
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