HSBC CEO, top execs to hot desk as bank turns their offices into meeting rooms

HSBC is shifting to a policy of about two employees per desk, excluding branches, said its chief executive Noel Quinn.
HSBC is shifting to a policy of about two employees per desk, excluding branches, said its chief executive Noel Quinn.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - HSBC Holdings has scrapped the executive floor of its Canary Wharf headquarters in London and turned the private offices of its top staff into client meeting rooms and collaborative spaces.

Chief executive officer Noel Quinn and other senior managers have been kicked out of their offices on the 42nd floor and will hot desk on an open-plan floor two storeys below, Mr Quinn told The Financial Times in an interview. The offices were empty half of the time because senior staff were travelling around the world, which was a "waste of real estate", he said.

Mr Quinn told the newspaper that he will not be in the office five days a week, saying "it's unnecessary" and "the new reality of life". A representative for HSBC confirmed the FT report to Bloomberg News.

The London-based bank, which expects to eventually shrink its global property footprint by 40 per cent, does not plan to renew many of its city-centre leases due in the next three to five years, Mr Quinn said. The lender is also shifting to a policy of about two employees per desk, excluding branches, he added.

Last year's abrupt shift to remote working has sparked a debate across industries about future demand for office space, prompting a number of global banks and other large firms to rethink how employees operate. Standard Chartered Bank this month formalised hybrid working for staff across its global operations after 84 per cent of employees asked to keep the flexible arrangements pioneered during the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, not all banks are embracing a permanent shift to working from home. Goldman Sachs Group CEO David Solomon said in February that remote work was "an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible".