HSBC brass top forced to heat office as HQ removes executive floor

HSBC Managing Director Noel Quinn has cut off all management at his Canary Wharf skyscraper in east London, as the bank becomes the latest to make sweeping changes in post-work practices -pandemic.

Top managers have been kicked out of their private 42nd-floor offices, which have been turned into meeting rooms for clients and spaces for collaboration, Quinn told the Financial Times. Executives – including the CEO – now a hot desk on an open-plan floor two floors lower.

“Our offices were empty half the time because we were traveling the world. It was a waste of real estate, ”he said. “If I ask our colleagues to change the way they work, then it’s just that we change the way we work.

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

HSBC has already made efforts to modernize a culture that has been compared to the vast British civil service of the Imperial era. Over 20 years ago, management told staff about to move into the new Canary Wharf headquarters that they were “encouraged to embrace the proposed open plan.”

More changes were coming, Quinn promised. To meet its goal of cutting costs at its global headquarters by 40%, HSBC does not plan to renew many of its downtown leases due in the next three to five years. The bank is also moving to a policy of around two employees per window, excluding branches.

“We will have a very different working style in the future, which will be much more hybrid, where colleagues can work both in the office and at home,” said the CEO.

Quinn, a 59-year-old HSBC lifer from Birmingham, is also targeting other parts of the bank’s operations.

The bank is in the middle of a program to cut 35,000 jobs to reduce the workforce to around 200,000 people. This will help it eliminate $ 5.5 billion in costs with profits under pressure from ultra-low interest rates and a slowdown in global trade.

HSBC’s office changes linked to Covid echo those of its peers.

Britain’s largest mortgage lender, Nationwide, will allow its 13,000 office workers to work from home full time if they so choose. Lloyds is conducting hybrid function tests this spring after 77% of employees “expressed a desire” to continue working remotely.

Standard Chartered has signed an agreement with flexible office firm IWG to allow many of its 95,000 employees to work from locations “close to home” rather than commuting to town.

Quinn, who has been in charge for over a year and a half, has started to make his mark on other aspects of the bank’s leadership. Last week he transferred four senior division leaders to Hong Kong from London.