Barclays Wants Eventual Return for Staff Working From Home

Barclays Plc is planning for normal office life to return. Eventually.

“We have some 60,000 people working from their kitchen tables,” Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said in an interview with Bloomberg Television Wednesday. “It’s important to get people back together in physical concentrations,” although he emphasized health and safety concerns would be paramount and didn’t specify any timeframe.

The British bank returned some staff to offices in the U.K., U.S. and India in July, and told the rest of its workforce to stay home at least until the end of September. Currently about a quarter of its people are working at Barclays premises, according to Staley.

“We have 20,000 people in the U.K. that are actually working from offices,” he said. “They’re working from our branches, they’re working from our call centers.”

Barclays Wants Eventual Return for Staff Working From Home

Staley has previously said that headquarters built to house thousands of staff might be a “thing of the past,” if social distancing meant only two people could take an elevator at a time. The American CEO suggested in April that investment bankers might work from local branches instead.

He expects lessons learned during the Covid-19 outbreak will be carried forward, but “we want our people back together to make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture and controls, and I think that will happen over time.”

Financial hubs in Europe and the U.S. have readied plans to welcome workers in the next few months, after offices were closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Fears of a second wave have pushed back the return for some: NatWest Group Plc has told most employees to work from home until next year as a precaution against the lingering pandemic.

Barclays reported second-quarter earnings Wednesday. It took a 1.6 billion-pound ($2.1 billion) charge in anticipation of bad loans, saying it expects a prolonged stretch of economic contraction.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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