By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic could permanently change how many bankers make the daily trudge into tightly packed city centre offices, Barclays CEO Jes Staley said on Wednesday.
The bank, which like companies worldwide has seen the majority of its staff work from home or backup sites, will not revert fully to its pre-January working habits, Staley said.
“There will be a long-term adjustment in how we think about our location strategy…the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past,” he told reporters after the bank reported a fall in first-quarter profits.
Staff including investment bankers could work instead from branches as well as other locations, he said.
Barclays plans to reopen its Hong Kong office first before other Asian hubs such as Singapore and Tokyo, and then Europe, Staley said.
Social distancing rules will limit how many workers can return and impose restrictions, such as limiting elevators to two people at a time, he said.
The comments by the head of one of Britain’s biggest banks show how business leaders are contemplating making possibly permanent alterations to work methods.
Banks worldwide have in recent years increasingly shifted many staff away from expensive skyscrapers in financial hubs, but Barclays and its rivals still pack thousands of workers each into single offices in London’s Canary Wharf financial district.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; editing by Jason Neely)