Lloyds reviews use of office space amid homeworking trend

Banking group becomes latest big employer to consider long-term remote working

Lloyds Banking Group is reviewing the amount of office space it uses, becoming the latest large UK employer to take advantage of a homeworking trend during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are indeed reviewing our property strategy,” its chief executive, António Horta-Osório, said on Thursday.

The bank, which has 50,000 of its 65,000 staff working from home, recently polled staff and found 89% felt they were adapting well to the change. About two-thirds said they wanted to work from home more in the future.

“As more of our colleagues are able to work flexibly and remotely, we are becoming less reliant on office space,” he said. “And also the type of office space we will need in the future is likely to change to reflect changing working styles. And it is important to note that no decisions or commitments have been made at this stage.”

Horta-Osório said the staff survey would influence an existing plan to consolidate its office footprint into six strategic hubs across the UK, focusing on London, Scotland, West Yorkshire, and the north-west, West Midlands and the south-west.

“We will be working to understand what the future of work and the office looks like which will also help to inform our decision,” he added.

Horta-Osório’s comments come a day after Jes Staley, the chief executive of rival Barclays, said his bank was also reviewing its property footprint after seeing how 30,000 of its 50,000 UK staff have been able to work from home effectively during the coronavirus crisis.

“We’ve all learned a lot in the last couple of months about the dynamic work environment and it’s extraordinary that we’re running a bank of the complexity of Barclays with over 60,000 people working from their kitchen tables,” Staley said. “We are going to think about our real estate mix, given the lessons that we’ve learned.”

In April, Staley made headlines after declaring the days of putting 7,000 people into a single building “may be a thing of the past”.

However, on Thursday, he stressed the importance of getting staff together physically to improve culture and promote collaboration. He said the bank would continue to operate in hubs including Manchester, Glasgow and London.

“It will be fascinating to see how it evolves over the next couple of years … but we’ll still have a major presence in places like Canary Wharf and other locations,” Staley said.

The bank refused to comment on reports it was considering terminating its lease for its building in North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, in an attempt to cut rent costs.

The move would involve shifting its investment bankers to the lender’s Canary Wharf headquarters based in Churchill Place, which houses 7,000 staff. The Times, which first reported the potential move, said it would involve a shift to permanent homeworking for some staff.

Contributor

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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