HSBC bosses swap plush executive floor for hot desking

London (AFP) –


Banking giant HSBC has axed the plush executive floor at its London headquarters, forcing top brass to share office space with colleagues in a new post-Covid approach, it said Tuesday.

Management will lose their private floor at HSBC's Canary Wharf skyscraper and will hotdesk -- or share desk space -- with coworkers elsewhere in the building, Chief Executive Noel Quinn revealed.

"Having spent more than a year working from home, the last thing I want is to be stuck in an individual office when I return to the building," Quinn wrote in a post on social network LinkedIn.

"I want to have people around me, to reconnect with colleagues and friends, and to be able to speak to them informally.

"So my leadership team and I have moved to a fully open plan floor with no designated desks," he said, adding that old offices have been converted to client and internal meeting rooms.

The Asia-focused lender will also switch to a hybrid or flexible workplace policy for all employees, after the pandemic fuelled a homeworking boom.

Increasing numbers of UK businesses are planning for hybrid work, splitting time between home and offices when the latest Covid-19 restrictions are finally relaxed in June.

Quinn stressed Tuesday that it would be a "missed opportunity" for HSBC to adapt to customer and staff needs, if the bank was to "drift back" to its old ways of work.

"Our people have told us they want more flexibility. We know too that the way our customers bank with us has changed.

"We need therefore to take all that we have learnt about the changing world and different working styles to make sure the future is different to the past."

Although some roles are largely office or branch-based, the bank will also examine ways to increase their flexibility.

"We estimate that most of our roles could be done in a hybrid way -- and that includes myself and the executive team of the bank," he concluded.

As part of this approach, HSBC recently offered more than 1,200 UK-based call centre employees the chance to work from home permanently.

Other corporate titans -- including Nationwide bank, accountants PwC and British Airways -- are among those eyeing a hybrid work policy.

However, US investment banks remain unconvinced over the matter.

Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has labelled remote working an "aberration" that does not suit its collaborative culture, while JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon argues it has had a negative effect on productivity.